A recently published paper in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences may provide the answer to just that. For thousands of years, laughter has eluded scientists in its intangible effects on human behavior and interaction. Recently, though, Robin Dunbar, an evolutionary psychologist at Oxford, conducted a study on various aspects of laughter and found that laughter’s use and effects combine to provide much more benefits than the apparent from just its simple “haha”.In five laboratory studies and one field study, Dr. Dunbar and colleagues discovered that laughing increased pain resistance, which is a high indicator of endorphin levels that have a feel good effect. Aside from investigating laughter at the nerve level, Dr. Dunbar also looked into the physical act of laughing and found that it is the physical act of laughing and not the intellectual pleasure of laughing that provides the “happiness benefits”; even the small muscular exertions involved in laughing can generate a detectable increase in endorphins in the body.
Dr. Dunbar believes that laughter may have been crucial to the evolution of humans for its highly beneficial social effects. “Laughter is an early mechanism to bond social groups,” he said. “Primates use it.” Apparently, apes pant, and at some point in time, “Pant, pant [became] ha, ha.”
Grace Gee, Features Writer
Sources: (Pictures): http://www.inspirational-short-stories.com/images/child-laughter.jpg