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Contagious Laughter

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posted on Feb, 8 2010 @ 11:26 AM
Hi folks …

So I was watching some silly show with sitcom outtakes the other day and they started showing the prerequisite actors starting to laugh and not being able to stop. I know it sounds silly, because objectively speaking, there's nothing really that funny about such a situation … after all someone forgot their line and they just started laughing. Yet out of such a simple event, came a deep and honest laughter out of them, one that soon became contagious and all of a sudden I couldn't stop laughing, so much so that my stomach hurt. I realize that sounds a little strange, yet I am sure many of you have experienced the same thing.

Furthermore, I have personally noticed and often been told, that when folks go to the movies to see a comedy, the frequency and degree of their laughter can be affected and influenced by the number of other people in the movie theater. That is to say that they are more likely to laugh more often in the presence of a crowd than if they were watching the movie alone at home or alone in the theater.

All of this of course is not really earth shattering news, hence the saying "laughter is contagious" … but I thought it would be somewhat interesting to delve into the scientific and psychological underlying reasons.

From a social/psychological viewpoint:

"We usually encounter positive emotions, such as laughter or cheering, in group situations, whether watching a comedy programme with family or a football game with friends. This response in the brain, automatically priming us to smile or laugh, provides a way of mirroring the behaviour of others, something which helps us interact socially. It could play an important role in building strong bonds between individuals in a group."

Now consider the existence of "laugh tracks" during sitcoms:

No matter how ridiculous those laugh tracks sound, they do increase the chances that we'll laugh at something. We've known this since 1974, when a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology revealed that subjects were more likely to laugh and find jokes funny when the jokes were followed by the recorded sound of laughter [source: Walker]. More recently, researcher Robert Provine, an expert on laughter, has found that people don't even need the joke to laugh; he plays subjects 20 seconds of laughter on a hand-held device, and even though it's obvious that the laughter is fake, subjects smiled or laughed anyways [source: Walker]. This suggests to researchers that laughter is a contagious phenomenon.

It's rather interesting in my opinion that we see the use of tools such as lol smileys on internet forums such as ATS, when used after someone expresses something they believe to be humorous, pointing to the same underlying dynamic. After all, it basically communicates the equivalent of laughing at something one says when communicating verbally in 'real life.' So that means that there is value to communicating one laughter onto others so that it may trigger a similar response.


1962 Laughter Epidemic

On 30 January 1962, an isolated fit of laughter started by three schoolgirls in a classroom in Kashasha village began to spread. Within a matter of weeks the symptoms of laughing, crying and agitation affected 95 of the 159 pupils, forcing the school to close on March 18. However, this did not solve the problem. The school reopened on May 21 but closed again shortly afterward as 57 further students were stricken.

Individual attacks could last from a matter of minutes to a period of hours and recur as many as four times, with symptoms persisting for an average of 16 days. No fatalities or long-term after affects were reported, although the attacks were temporarily debilitating and sufferers were unable to attend classes for a number of weeks.

The girls were highly agitated and often resisted any restraint. None of the teachers, two Europeans and three Africans, were affected.

From: which has some further interesting information. Interesting to note how the contagious nature of laughter can potentially be used as a psychological tool to manipulate to an end.

Further reading and understanding "cognitive similarity:"

Cognitive similarity: Cognitive similarity is when two situations resemble each other without you actually performing a conscious comparison. For instance, showing affection to your new partner (e.g. kissing) will automatically resemble a previous situation where you had shown affection to the narcissist. You can become aware of such similarities through a post-analysis of events but most of the time you might not be consciously aware of such similarities. Cognitive similarity works fast and has a direct impact on the nervous system and in effect on your body.

Anyhoot, I thought the whole thing was rather interesting and thought I'd share.

*use of smileys was precluded from this post so as not to to influence subject behavioral response*

Damn it!!!

[edit on 8 Feb 2010 by schrodingers dog]

posted on Feb, 8 2010 @ 11:36 AM
the carol burnette show with harvey corman and tim conway and momma, was the best!

they would crack up alot. laughter is contagious and people don't laugh enough anymore.

it is so scripted as to be stupid now a days.

the 1962 thing had to be mass hysteria, lol!!

posted on Feb, 8 2010 @ 12:33 PM
reply to post by schrodingers dog

some pottymouthness

(still prefer handmade to store bought)


edit to add: laughing is fun - and easy

[edit on 2/8/2010 by Spiramirabilis]

posted on Feb, 8 2010 @ 12:35 PM
This affects me. I mean, I tend to laugh a lot as is. Anyone here who has spoken to me knows this
Does not take much

posted on Feb, 8 2010 @ 12:41 PM
Funny you should post this..

posted on Feb, 8 2010 @ 05:16 PM
reply to post by Spiramirabilis

That was truly infectious ... it literally had me in tears.

I must be easily affected ...

Thank you.

posted on Feb, 8 2010 @ 05:37 PM
reply to post by schrodingers dog

Humor and inducing laughter in others is a curious thing. Working preproduction with a writing team, I have found that
jokes are easy as are sight gags, but dialog requires work to be funny. And often we can crack ourselves up and it will transfer to the crew and other staff and they don't even know the reason. Still we run our material in a test run by family and friends before committing it to script. It's astonishing how something can be funny to the crew and lame to everyone else.

Bob & Ray, Mr. Winters, Mr. Newhart......we love you!

And I get a lot of ideas from ATS; an incredible resource. There are some very, very funny people here, and you know who you are.


[edit on 8-2-2010 by whaaa]

posted on Feb, 8 2010 @ 05:44 PM
With all the grim wanna-be-important malcontents around, this thread is a Blessing. Humor surpasses Knowledge imo.

posted on Feb, 8 2010 @ 06:21 PM

The Clown Chakra By John Morton

The clown Scientists have found that all our problems can be placed under one heading: Seriousness. Seriousness is the leading cause of everything from Cancer to Reincarnation. Scientists from the Clown Academy have already discovered a new source of healing. It is a psychic energy Point located between the heart chakra and the throat chakra. It is called The Clown Chakra. If people are feeling miserable, if they have financial problems, if their relationship situation is the pits, if they are in ill health, if they have a need to sue people, if they find fault with their brother, then obviously, their Clown Chakra is closed. When this happens, the scientists have observed under a high-powered microscope that the cells of every organ display a sad face
, and when the Clown Chakra is open and functioning normally, the cells display a happy face

The scientists realized that if a person is ill, it is because his mind has projected guilt onto the cells of his body and has forced out the love that is normally found within each cell of the body. The cells are therefore saying, "I Lack Love," or "ILL" for short. The scientists also discovered that all disease is due to the fact that the cells are out of ease or dis-eased. When the Clown Chakra is opened and working (or rather, playing) properly, the psychic mechanism sucks up misery, pain, anger, resentment, grievances, unhappiness, etc., and converts the energy into tiny red heart-shaped balloons. The red heart-shaped balloons contain Love and Joy. These balloons are directed to the dis-eased cell or situation, and a happy
face appears instantly. When the light enters the darkness, the darkness is gone. Sometimes these red heart-shaped balloons are called endorphins, due to the fact that when anyone experiences them, the feeling of separation ends. They experience being back home with All That Is and hence are no longer an orphan. This is the well-known end-orphan (endorphin) effect.

So, if you think someone is attacking you, Clown Scientists recommend that you visualize sending that person red heart-shaped balloons filled with Love and Joy. Remember to keep your Clown Chakra open and remember to laugh.

Seriousness causes reincarnation.

posted on Feb, 8 2010 @ 08:14 PM
reply to post by schrodingers dog

That was truly infectious ... it literally had me in tears.

me too

I would be ashamed to tell you how many times I've watched it - so I won't tell you

I hate shame

(I will watch it one more time - now)

:-) :-) :-)

posted on Feb, 8 2010 @ 08:26 PM
reply to post by schrodingers dog

Now, not to argue with you, schrodingers dog, but I can contain my laughter.

I can as well have what is colloquially called a belly laugh that is deep and contagious.

Nothing however gets me laughing greatly as someting truly hilarious.

A few examples if you will, one of your most recent threads, to start.

How To Report The News

Charlie Brooker - How To Report The News

I've posted that on a few people's profiles, just to make them laugh, and smile.

Someone suggested I give a warning because of milk coming through their nose.

More now, if you will allow, if not, well I'm going to laugh.

Colonoscopies Aren't Just For Fun Anymore


Bets with Little Old Ladies


Keystone Kops - Keystone Hotel

Stooges Pie Fight

Laughter is important too, because I used to not be able to laugh at myself.

I wound up in many fights because of this and now I laugh at myself and walk away.

Laughter can as well be used as a de-escalation tactic, I use it all the time, effectively.

Even Einstein had a goofy side.


Thanks for the laughs, SD!

[edit on 8-2-2010 by SpartanKingLeonidas]

posted on Feb, 8 2010 @ 08:29 PM
They need to come up with a vaccine for this immediately.

Smiles are contagious too.

I'm in Minnesota, have been all day, and as I was driving around I noticed that everyone seemed to be smiling, so I smiled too... Until I got out of my vehicle and realized that the -20 wind chill was the cause, and the expressions were from pain.

Damn, it's too cold here.

posted on Feb, 8 2010 @ 08:33 PM
Okay, I don't condone this, albeit gaseous-ly induced, it shows how contagious it can actually be.

[edit on 2/8/2010 by UberL33t]

posted on Feb, 8 2010 @ 08:42 PM
reply to post by UberL33t

See, I have to tell you honestly, that didn't make me laugh that much if at all ... at least not in the contagious way I try to point to in the OP.

However the video has a lot of merit in my opinion, so I thank you for providing it. But is shows, at least to me, that laughter (like most other emotions) can only be contagious when earnest, and not when they are artificially created with such things as laughing gas.

Something must happen to us vibrationally and energetically that others (including animals) can pick up on and interact with.

Here's an example, provided by a fellow ATS member a while back who's username I cannot remember:

In this case it is joy that is contagious, but I imagine the laughing process to be much the same.

Edit to add: The name of the song is "Unstoppable" ... how cool is that?

[edit on 8 Feb 2010 by schrodingers dog]

posted on Feb, 8 2010 @ 08:49 PM
I guess it goes one in the same with "Mob Mentality" where as joy and laughter are contagious, so is chaos and mayhem. Is an interesting notion to ponder. Human Connectivity as it could speculate that it can go in either direction.

posted on Feb, 8 2010 @ 08:57 PM

Originally posted by UberL33t
I guess it goes one in the same with "Mob Mentality" where as joy and laughter are contagious, so is chaos and mayhem.

So perhaps the most effective way to disarm such intent is with deep felt earnest laughter and joy.

posted on Feb, 8 2010 @ 08:58 PM
"Society is imitation" - Gabriel Tarde

Simply social proof.

Another very important theory on laughter is that It's about social status and sexual attraction.

The employee laughs at boss jokes. The girl laughs to anything the boy she is attracted is saying.

posted on Feb, 8 2010 @ 09:02 PM
reply to post by UberL33t

It is similar to carnivorous pack animal instincts, and is how packs, flocks, herds survive together by feeding off of emotional signs, movements, calls, howls, growls, barks etc.

We are, after all, quite simply, highly evolved social pack animals.

posted on Feb, 8 2010 @ 09:10 PM
reply to post by Walkswithfish

No Joke: Animals Laugh, Too

Studies by various groups suggest monkeys, dogs and even rats love a good laugh. People, meanwhile, have been laughing since before they could talk.

"Indeed, neural circuits for laughter exist in very ancient regions of the brain, and ancestral forms of play and laughter existed in other animals eons before we humans came along with our 'ha-ha-has' and verbal repartee ..."

It would seem that our animal friends can emote and communicate the same emotion as laughter without having to necessarily verbally express it or the redundant use of smileys ...

posted on Feb, 8 2010 @ 09:13 PM

Originally posted by schrodingers dog
So perhaps the most effective way to disarm such intent is with deep felt earnest laughter and joy.

Which raises the question, how do we, as a species, inherit a "Universal Laughter" with one another? There in with said "universal laughter", promoting a utopia of happy peaceful people in a joyous society? If only it was that easy huh? Although, there are a few viral videos I've seen that could maybe lay a foundation if all 6 Billion+ could watch it in unison. If even one moment of a conjoined laughter in unison could take place, that would be more than we as a species have ever experienced thus far. Wishful thinking!

[edit on 2/8/2010 by UberL33t]

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