The Science Behind A Smile: Why Is Laughter Contagious?

When you see two people laughing at a joke, chances are you’ll start laughing as well even before you hear what the whole thing is about. Or at least smiling. But what happens in our brains when we notice those around us having a good laugh? There’s a very famous line that goes like this: “Laugh and the world will laugh with you!”. Having a cheerful attitude is probably the best thing we can spread to others. Whatever the magic (or science) behind this, it’s true: laughter really is contagious!

MORE: If You Laugh At These Dark Jokes, You’re Probably A Genius (Science Says)

Why is laughing so contagious?

Remember that time you watched a comedy with your friends and had a blast but then you watched that same movie again, by yourself this time, and you found it rather boring? It must have happened to us all.

Short History of Laughter

Research in this area shows that laughter has been around for a very long time now, passed on to us from our ancestors. Scientists believe that laughter is even older than language! Laughter would help them bond and become more comfortable with each other. And this is exactly the effect it has nowadays. People laugh among groups when they feel free and at ease around their peers. Humor can also break the ice in many life instances.

MORE: 4 Cases When Your Friend’s Smile Should Worry You

Why Is Laughing Contagious?

It’s all in how our brains respond to sounds apparently. The reason why we smile or laugh when others around us do it is because our brains are more responsive to positive sounds like laughing. When the brain responds to laughter it prepares the muscles in the face to react to the respective sounds. Studies show it has much to do with mirroring the behavior of others which helps us interact better with our peers.

Fun fact: this theory is the reason why we hear pre-recorded laughter during sitcoms. It helps with inducing laughter in the audience too. Moreover, laughter therapy is a thing! And it works according to the same principle: watching others laugh will make you join right away!

So laugh it up! And don’t forget to pass the laughter on to your friends!