It Turns Out A Laugh Doesn't Mean Something's Funny

Why we chuckle, giggle and guffaw is more complicated than that.

No joke: Most laughter isn't generated by what we think is funny.

So says a new installment of the PBS Digital Studios series "It's Okay To Be Smart."

Less than one in five chuckles comes "in response to humor," according to the video.

Instead, we laugh to defuse awkward situations and to tease others, the clip notes. And giggling solo is often a no-go. We are 30 times more likely to laugh with someone else than alone, "It's Okay To Be Smart" says.

The video concludes that laughing is more about bonding than comedy, and research published this spring in Human Nature backs up that view. A study by researchers at University College London and the University of Oxford suggests that laughter makes people more apt to open up about themselves, which can help them forge closer relationships.

"Given the importance of disclosing behaviors in facilitating the development of intense social bonds, it is possible that the act of laughing may temporarily influence the laugher’s willingness to disclose personal information," the study said.

We humans are not the only ones busting a gut. Rats giggle when they're tickled. Primates and dogs are also known to laugh, researchers say.

But we probably can't count on them to laugh at a sitcom. Right, Dr. Cox?

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