The Power of Laughter: A Matter of Survival?

The Power of Laughter: A Matter of Survival?


Some scientific theories have tried to understand why human beings experience laughter when they hear or read something funny. There are many factors that lead man to laugh and some of these, as highlighted by researchers and psychologists, are very simple. One of all teasing, which includes a sense of arrogance and superiority. Then there are inconsistencies when there are meanings that are not compatible with each other in the same situation.


The speech is very complex, and as you can well imagine what lies behind emotions such as laughter and humor, it carries more than 10 years of scientific literature . Scientists, after examining a hundred documents, have tried to give a new explanation to the phenomenon of laughter, coming to the conclusion that it is a tool that has had the role of helping human beings to survive in some moments of history of the species. But let’s see in detail how laughter has evolved and what were the elements that led research to express these theories of humor 

Because we laugh, the hypotheses

The theories are truly endless and no one until now has been able to understand what is the specific motivation behind something as simple yet complex as the phenomenon of laughter . However, those who study the human condition in depth have managed to condense the process of laughter into three phases . It has been discovered that it is triggered by three emotions: loss , the resolution of a particular ” all clear ” signal, but we will see it later in detail. 

Let us focus first of all on what is called in scientific jargon the theory of incongruity . This thoroughly explains why a person laughs after a humorous joke . Even if it is not enough, it is a step forward in understanding all the mechanisms behind such a particular phenomenon. As far as this theory is concerned, human beings laugh when they find elements that are incompatible with each other and are confronted with situations that subvert the expectations of normality. 


Let’s take an example: if we saw a penguin walking down the street, it might seem like a strange phenomenon, but it’s not enough to trigger a laugh. If the penguin rolled like a ball, the situation would change completely and a real moment would be ironic and absurd at the same time.

There are many examples of a human experience that confronts laughter in the history of the species. We see them from early childhood with cartoons where numerous ridiculous situations happen. In this case, they are exaggerated in such a way that the viewer perceives them as harmless and at the same time impossible in terms of their realization in the real world. That is why laughter occurs when the situation is funny but without real danger, since otherwise it would prefer the phenomenon of fear . Something makes us laugh precisely because it is not real and because the strange situation remains so and far from us and without implications for our person.

Resolution and relief

We also talked about resolution and relief . These two emotions have strictly to do with what was mentioned above regarding the survival of the species . Stress and worries, daily features of our society, are elaborated and overcome also through laughter which takes on a decisive meaning of something apparently unmanageable. 


Even the relief, typical of laughter, warns our body and synapses, telling them to be safe. For millennia therefore, people may have used laughter precisely to communicate to others not to respond to an action with fight or flight , thus decreasing the aggression in the other. Laughing therefore means that the threat has passed . Humor is life saving in order to keep feelings of anger and revenge at bay .

Laughter as therapy

Like many phenomena typical of the human attitude, even the joke and the consequent laughter contain within themselves a process where something strange and disconcerting gradually transforms into something not very serious and at the same time comical . A study on crying , conducted by numerous scientific researchers has also demonstrated how similar crying is to natural actions such as breathing chewing and walking , which essentially occur without strong emotions being involved. 

Among these actions is laughter, considered by science as a rhythmic behavior that serves the body to release energy. The synapses and brain centers where laughter is regulated work to control all negative emotions such as fears and anxiety. It is no coincidence that humor is often used in hospitals to bring patients to a faster recovery , as all the studies concerning clown therapy have shown . Humor and laughter also act on mental pathologies such as anxiety and depression, today incredibly frequent in a society subjected to continuous daily stress.


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