Laughter Helpful In Building Relationships
There is perhaps no more sought after personality trait than the ability to make others laugh. Making someone angry is easy enough, and if you’re adept at making others cry, maybe you need to, like, talk to somebody. But Laughter Relationship that’s the brass ring. The guy with the jokes is the life of the party, and a few well-timed chuckles can have women hanging on your every word. Now, science finds that more than just the sign of a good time, laughter may actually be crucial in building relationships.
The study, performed at Oxford University, involved 112 participants, none of whom knew one another. Placed in groups of four, they were shown one of three 10-minute videos: A standup comedy routine, some droll golf instruction or an excerpt from the BBC’s Planet Earth. The participants’ levels of laughter were measured throughout the video, and afterwards they were asked to write a message to another participant telling them about themselves.
They found that the participants who laughed the most disclosed significantly more intimate details to one another than those who laughed less. They weren’t even necessarily aware they were doing so — it was those who received the messages that picked up on the intimacy, not those who wrote them.
The researchers believe that there’s actually a physiological component to the phenomenon. Laughter actually releases endorphins, the same hormones that give you that extra pep in your step after a hard workout.
“This seems to be in line with the notion that laughter is linked specifically to fostering behaviors that encourage relationship development, since observer ratings of disclosure may be more important for relationship development than how much one feels one is disclosing,” says Gray. “These results suggest that laughter should be a serious topic for those interested in the development of social relationships.”
It’s not too surprising, especially given the nature of laughter. More than an indicator of happiness, many scientists believed laughter evolved as a way to release tension and signal that danger is passed. Imagine being a paleolithic human, and you hear a rustle in the bushes — when you discover it was just a squirrel, you’re like “hahaha, it’s OK, we’re OK, that was not a dangerous animal coming to kill us.”
In other words, it’s a signal that it’s safe to be vulnerable. Given that emotional disclosure typically makes people feel very exposed, it’s reasonable to assume that the endorphins triggered by laughter tell the brain that it’s ok to be vulnerable. Since relationships are founded on knowing another person intimately, you can see why the two would be connected.