Laughter Is Different Among Friends
We’ll go out on a limb here and state that most people like to laugh. It may not actually be the best medicine, as an old proverb insists, but it generally is an indicator of happy times.
And laughter being such an integral part of the human condition, scientists naturally feel the need to study it. We might call it giggleology (but we probably shouldn’t).
The average adult laughs about 15 times a day. According to a recent study from UCLA, laughs shared between close friends can signal relationship status to third-party listeners. This not only shows the important role laughter plays in a relationship, but also suggests how these sudden outbursts of amusement influenced the evolution of human social behavior.
Researchers used 48 audio clips of laughter taken from 24 recordings of people having a short conversation with a friend, or with a stranger that they had just met. The average length of the conversation was around 13 minutes.
The clips were played to 966 participants from 24 societies around the world. Participants were then asked two questions: if they thought the people laughing were friends or strangers, and how much they thought the people liked one another.
Listeners were between 53% and 67% accurate in judging the pairs -- most accurate at judging pairs of female friends. Laughter shared between friends was characterized by features such as high speaker arousal and spontaneous, genuine emotions.
It seems that laughter’s ability to spread happiness and joy transcends all cultural, linguistic, and geographical barriers. In addition, this finding might explain why humans evolved the capacity to laugh in the first place, suggesting that laughter is a universal indicator of relationship status to outside parties.