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Laughter, Psychology of

Laughter is a human universal, a vocal signal so closely linked to humor that the two are considered almost interchangeable. However, although often triggered by mirth, laughter also occurs in a variety of other circumstances, and it is increasingly investigated in its own right. This entry reviews resulting findings, focusing on laughter biology, acoustics, and function. It concludes that these sounds have likely long been central in human social communication.

Laughter Biology

Several kinds of evidence show that laughter has deep biological roots, including that humankind's closest relatives, the great apes, all make positively toned calls during tickling and play. Although different-sounding than human laughter, tickle-induced vocalizations in young chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas, and orangutans are acoustically related both across these species and to human versions. The acoustic ...

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