A new study has suggested sharing a good laugh is an effective catalyst for new relationships.
University College London in the UK found that sharing a few good giggles and chuckles makes people more willing to tell others something personal about themselves, without even necessarily being aware that they are doing so.
The act of verbally opening up to someone is a crucial building block that helps to form new relationships and intensify social bonds. Such self-disclosure can be of a highly sensitive nature, like sharing one’s religious convictions or personal fears or a superficial piece of information such as one’s favorite TV show.
To analyse and begin to fully understand the role and influence of laughter in the verbal disclosure process, researchers from Oxford University, gathered 112 students into groups of four. Prior to the study, the students did not know one another. Each group was then asked to watch a 10-minute video together, without chatting to one another.
The participants who watched a comedy routine and shared a good laugh together, disclosed significantly more intimate information amongst themselves than the groups who did not watch the comedy routine. Lead author Alan Gray suggests this is not merely because it is a positive experience, but because of the physiology behind a good laugh. It actually triggers the release of endorphin which has been dubbed as the “happy hormone”. The findings support the idea that laughter encourages people to make more intimate disclosures to strangers.
Interestingly, the person who disclosed information was seldom aware that he or she had done so. It was only the listener who realized that it had happened. Gray added that this seems to be in line with the notion that laughter is linked specifically to fostering behaviours that encourage relationship development, since observer ratings of disclosure may be more important for relationship development than how much one feels one is disclosing, suggesting that sharing laughter should be a serious topic for those interested in the development of social relationships.
Our summary, flowers and a little bit of laughter will vastly improve the quality of life for all.