Who doesn’t enjoy a good, hearty laugh? We read funny stories, watch comedy movies and TV shows, and even listen to prank calls on the radio–anything to tickle our funny bone.
A sense of humour can make us forget our problems, even if only for a few moments, and make us happy. “In the reception of humor, we take in information (something someone says or does, or something we read) through our eyes and ears, process the meaning of this information, and appraise it as non-serious, playful, and humourous,” writes University of Western Ontario psychology professor Rod A Martin in his book The Psychology of Humour: An Integrated Approach.
Going by Martin’s explanation, enjoying humour not only kindles our cognitive mind, but also affects our emotional state. In response to humour, the reward network in the limbic system of the brain gets activated. This results in a pleasurable emotional response which is expressed through smiles, chuckles or laughs. As Martin puts it, “Whenever we laugh at something funny, we are experiencing an emotional high that is rooted in the biochemistry of our brains.”