Laughter Is Relative

It is debatable whether laughter is a reflexive response to something, or is a kind of communication.

The responses of certain kinds of humour being extremely diverse suggests that laughter can be:

  1. A response to a sudden turn, something that surprises us or is against our expectation, but gets resolved in some manner.
  2. A means to release nervous energy.
  3. A kind of act that announces one’s dominant position, or a desire to increase interpersonal behaviour, or to encourage playfulness.

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What You “Say” With Laughter

psychologytoday.com

Laughter may relate to our own vulnerability or of other people and could be a way to express this feeling vocally.

  • Lifting Laughter: A way of positively signalling someone who made a fool of themselves that everything is okay and we all are susceptible to the same kind of errors and misfortunes.
  • Self-lifting Laughter: The person who made a fool of himself (or herself) often chuckles with embarrassment. This is self-lifting laughter, signalling that what the person went through is human, and could happen to anyone.

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When one assumes that the other person’s status, position or respect is not deserving, or is misused, the expression of mutual vulnerability, that is laughter has a corrective effect.

When we laugh at someone, we signal that the person is not better than us or is not deserving of the status/position. This is known as ‘Lowering Laughter’.

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If our own status or position is increased for some unjustifiable reason, we tend to laugh in a self-mocking manner, acting modestly. This is known as ‘Self-lowering laughter’.

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Laughing when tickled is not reflexive and is mainly due to cognitive, emotional or social factors. There is often no tickle laughter when there is a scarcity of bonding, feeling or sensitivity.

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