Why open-mouthed laughter makes us feel good

Sunday, November 21, 2010

LONDON - Laughter sounds good only when it’s open-mouthed and spontaneous.

Conversely, a closed mouth laugh such as a snigger, which scientists describe as a ‘pant-pant’ sound, has the opposite effect.

The findings suggest that from a young age we learn to associate the wide-open guffaw with life’s most positive experiences and all it takes is to hear that happy sound to feel happier, the Daily Mail reports.

Associate professor Michael Owren, an experimental psychologist from Georgia State University in Atlanta, who led the study, said: “I think of laughter sounds as a kind of fundamental mechanism for building and maintaining positive social relationships.

“Laughter is almost a dominant feature in social interactions. It clearly has some role in promoting positive emotional bonds. But it is not clear how that’s working,” a Georgia statement quoted him as saying.

Owren and his colleagues played people nearly 50 bouts of recorded clips of people laughing. They gave much more positive ratings to open-mouthed laughter.

“We suspect that we all have learned emotional responses to laughter sounds that have different kinds of acoustic cues.

“It’s a kind of unconscious response that we build up throughout life that significantly influences the way we interpret laughter events in everyday social situations,” Owren pointed out.

Filed under: Science and Technology

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