About four months ago in a meeting with others in the State department, it dawned on me that most of the meetings I have been in always generated laughter. Yes, there were some extremely clever people making very witty remarks, but the laughter seemed to reflect a group culture that was different than the business world I had been a part of.
Then I ran into a piece of news on current laughter research that made sense of my observation. Laughter may be a large part in creating diplomatic ties.
"People are about 30 times more likely to laugh in the presence of others than alone, reinforcing the idea that laughter is a social phenomenon. And though we associate laughter with humor, a large proportion of laughs aren't in response to anything remotely funny. Rather, they are often just affirmations, communications, or expressions of joy. We laugh "to kind of grease the social wheels," Hudenko said.More at MSNBC News
Laughter mainly comes in two types, researchers think: voiced, and unvoiced. 'We need more research to be done to understand the function of voiced versus unvoiced laughter, but our best hypothesis is that unvoiced laughs are probably used more to negotiate social interactions, and voiced might be more linked to a positive internal state,' Hudenko said.
So voiced laughter — the prototypical, belly-laugh type, that sounds more like sing-song — is usually spontaneous. We create the sound with our vocal chords (hence the name), and usually laugh this way naturally and spontaneously. Unvoiced laughter, however, is more of a conscious expression. We make these panting, grunting, snorting noises when we are trying on purpose to laugh, usually for a social purpose, such as to ease conversation or make friends.
For adults, each type of laughter represents about 50 percent of the total. Young children may express more voiced than unvoiced laughter, as they haven't yet learned to purposely laugh. But strikingly, Hudenko and team found that autistic children almost never produce unvoiced laughs."
Image of a Mumbai Laughing Club from National Geographic