The Many Faces of Laughter 笑的面面觀
─Bertus van Aswegen
Laughter is an important part of our lives. It's something that comes naturally to us, yet we're unable to control it. While we may hold back our urge to laugh, we can't laugh on command. Why we laugh and how laughter works are questions that have interested many researchers.
Contrary to what people may think, laughter isn't most often related to humor. As studies have shown, we tend to laugh the most when we want to create and strengthen relationships. This is obvious from the fact that we rarely laugh when we're alone.
Laughter also depends on culture. One researcher found that Americans tend to like humor that questions ideas of superiority. The British, however, like to laugh at jokes that make fun of serious topics such as illness and marriage.
What about those attacks of laughter we get from being tickled? According to German scientists, tickling activates a part of our brains that perceives pain. This is why we often defend ourselves when being tickled. Laughing from being tickled is a sign of surrender, telling the person who's tickling us that he or she can stop now.