What is the evolutionary purpose of laughing?

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Matt Tisdale

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What is the evolutionary purpose of laughing?
« on: 11/12/2009 11:30:02 »
Matt Tisdale asked the Naked Scientists:
   
Hey scientist,

Long time listener.

What is the evolutionary purpose of laughing?

Great work with the show.

Cheers,

-Matt T-

What do you think?

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Offline Madidus_Scientia

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What is the evolutionary purpose of laughing?
« Reply #1 on: 11/12/2009 12:27:16 »
Well if I was to take a guess I reckon the actual noise of laughing might have been one of the earlier forms of language, and I reckon it's probably to do with positively reinforcing the behaviour of working in a group and having friends. Populations who enjoyed each others company through making each other laugh grow attached to one another and so look out for each other and are more likely to survive than specimens who live alone or populations who do not work together well.

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Offline LeeE

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What is the evolutionary purpose of laughing?
« Reply #2 on: 11/12/2009 19:21:40 »
Laughing is a form of communication.  Like a dog wagging its tail, it conveys the attitude of the person laughing to anyone near enough to hear them.
...And its claws are as big as cups, and for some reason it's got a tremendous fear of stamps! And Mrs Doyle was telling me it's got magnets on its tail, so if you're made out of metal it can attach itself to you! And instead of a mouth it's got four arses!

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Offline RD

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What is the evolutionary purpose of laughing?
« Reply #3 on: 12/12/2009 06:44:51 »
Laughter has evolved from agression: (well it does involve baring your teeth and grunting).

In apes it can indicate submission or affiliation ...

Quote
In rhesus macaques the fear grin signals ritualized submission or fear toward dominant individuals. Additionally, this meaning should not be generalized to macaques, because in Tonkean macaques (Macaca tonkeana) this facial expression signals affiliation.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2578760/
« Last Edit: 12/12/2009 06:55:11 by RD »

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Offline Nizzle

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What is the evolutionary purpose of laughing?
« Reply #4 on: 17/12/2009 09:35:44 »
More modern functions of laughter involves making yourself more attractive for the other sex.
Studies indicate that a good sense of humor and an uplifted spirit has become an important part of the attractiveness of a person.

In psychology, a good sense of humor is also slightly correlated to a more than average IQ.
Roses are red,
Violets are blue.
Most poems rhyme,
but this one doesn't

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Offline Don_1

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What is the evolutionary purpose of laughing?
« Reply #5 on: 17/12/2009 14:28:12 »
It makes you wonder if humans are the only animals which laugh (apart from the laughing hyena of course).

When we see or do something daft, we may have a little chuckle. For instance, if I take a bite out of a pizza and it comes to bits, with a piece flying through the air and landing on my head, I'd laugh my socks off, then cry at the loss of my grub.

Just a couple of days ago, Woody the wood pigeon was tucking in to a piece of bread just outside our kitchen door. As he shook his head to break off a piece, the remainder flew up in the air and landed on his back. He then trotted around frantically trying to shake it off his back. It was one of those moments when I wished I'd had a camcorder to hand, to make 250 from 'You've been framed'. It made me chuckle, but I wonder, did Woody have a laugh over it?
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Offline RD

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What is the evolutionary purpose of laughing?
« Reply #6 on: 17/12/2009 14:50:30 »
Woody the wood pigeon was tucking in to a piece of bread just outside our kitchen door. As he shook his head to break off a piece, the remainder flew up in the air and landed on his back. He then trotted around frantically trying to shake it off his back. It was one of those moments when I wished I'd had a camcorder to hand, to make 250 from 'You've been framed'.

The bread-crust-necklace phenomenon in pigeons already been recorded ...

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« Last Edit: 18/12/2009 05:49:34 by RD »