Sunday, April 30, 2023

The Psychology of Laughter: Why Humour is Good for You #SundayBlog #Humor #Laughter #Stressrelief #Healthyliving #Healthylifestyle

I love to laugh! I’m a happy person. People are constantly asking me why I’m always so happy. I believe it’s because I laugh so much. Let’s face it, laughter is a universal language. It transcends cultures, age groups, and social boundaries, bringing people together in moments of shared joy. For decades, psychologists and researchers have been interested in laughter, as they attempt to understand the underlying mechanisms and benefits of humour. 

There are several theories in psychology that explain why we laugh. Among the most prominent is the incongruity theory, which suggests that humour arises when expectations and reality differ. 

For example, a joke often leads to a punchline that defies our expectations, creating a sense of surprise and triggering laughter.

Other theories include the superiority theory, which suggests that we laugh when we perceive ourselves as superior to others or when we witness someone else's misfortune, mistakes, or incompetence. According to this theory, laughter serves as a way to assert dominance or to feel better about ourselves in comparison to others. The superiority theory dates back to ancient philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle, who believed that mockery and ridicule were at the core of humour.

The relief theory, proposed by Sigmund Freud and Herbert Spencer, posits that laughter serves as a release of built-up tension, stress, or anxiety. Laughter allows us to release negative emotions and return to a more balanced state of mind. This theory suggests that humour and laughter provide a psychological escape from the pressures and demands of everyday life, allowing us to momentarily forget our worries and concerns.

Another theory is the benign violation theory, developed by psychologists Peter McGraw and Caleb Warren, which combines elements of both the incongruity and superiority theories. According to this theory, humour arises when a situation is perceived as a violation of norms or expectations (similar to incongruity theory) but is simultaneously seen as harmless or benign (similar to superiority theory). In other words, we find something funny when it transgresses social, cultural, or personal boundaries without posing any real threat or harm. Humour, according to this theory, must strike a delicate balance between provocative and safe in order to be effective.

Whatever the theory, there’s no denying that laughter is the best medicine for releasing built-up tension, stress, and anxiety. 

So how is humour good for you?


Physically, laughter boosts our immune system, lowers blood pressure, and reduces stress hormones. When we laugh, we release endorphins, the body's natural painkillers and feel-good chemicals, which uplift us and even temporarily relieve pain.


The power of humour lies in its ability to manage our emotions. It helps us cope with difficult situations by enabling us to view them from a different, less threatening perspective. Laughter can also serve as a distraction from negative emotions, allowing us to refocus our attention and gain perspective.


As a social lubricant, humour helps to break the ice and ease tension in social situations. Shared laughter connects and bonds us, making it easier for people to communicate, collaborate, and build trust. Moreover, a good sense of humour is often seen as an attractive quality, making it easier to form and maintain relationships.


Humour can enhance our cognitive abilities by stimulating our creativity and problem-solving skills. Jokes and puns often involve complex cognitive processes, such as recognizing patterns and making connections between seemingly unrelated concepts. By engaging in humour, we can hone our mental agility and promote cognitive flexibility.


Laughter has been linked to increased psychological resilience, helping us to bounce back from stress and adversity. By finding humour in challenging situations, we can reframe negative experiences, making them more manageable and less overwhelming.

The psychology of laughter reveals that humour is more than amusement – it is an essential component of our well-being. Laughter offers numerous benefits, making it an invaluable tool for maintaining a healthy, balanced, and happy life. So, the next time you're feeling down or stressed out, remember that laughter truly is the best medicine!

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