Several recent studies have suggested that women experience laughter more than men. According to medical experts, laughter isn’t just about having fun – it actually has many health benefits. Studies have shown that the act of laughing can lower blood pressure, reduce stress and boost immune function.
Not only that, but laughter can also provide benefits similar to that of an anti-depressant. When you laugh, your body releases endorphins, which results in a general feeling of health and well-being. Regular laughter can play a role in helping you to avoid many health problems. Thus, not only do women tend to laugh more than men, they are also more likely to “have the last laugh”.
Experts on both sides of the nature vs. nurture debate have suggested several theories as to why women tend to crack up more than their male peers. Some studies have led experts to believe that genetics is involved.
According to a study conducted at the Stanford University of Medicine, gender can affect the way that a person’s brain responds to humor. The study, which involved the monitoring of 10 men and 10 women watching cartoons, demonstrated that women are more likely than their male peers to use the part of the brain that processes rewards. It seemed that women had lower expectations in regard to a reward (in this case, the reward being the punch-line of the joke or cartoon), which resulted in them enjoying the experience more than the men. Men, on the other hand, seemed to anticipate that they would find the cartoons humorous, and were therefore more likely to be disappointed and find them less amusing.
Interestingly, more research into the topic revealed that the reward center of women’s brains are more sensitive to emotional stimuli (including negative stimuli), which could explain why depression strikes more than twice as many women as it does men.
Previous studies have also show differences in men’s and women’s appreciation of humor as well as gender differences in the overall meaning and function of laughter.
Others have suggested that women are more likely to laugh than men due to their lower social status. Theories point out that women are more likely to be in subordinate positions and roles, and therefore are more likely to laugh at dominant male figures, whether or not they find them to be humorous. Laughter is often considered a sign of cooperation and friendliness, characteristics that women may feel more pressure to display.
It has also been suggested that traditional mating habits also result in men being more likely to crack jokes than women and feel more comfortable risking embarrassment for the sake of humor. Some believe that being humorous holds more rewards for men than it does for women, especially when it comes to dating. This would partially explain why there are so many more men in the comedy world than there are females.
Women are more likely to respond to men whom they find humorous and men seem to recognize this and do their best to make women laugh. It has been shown that women are more likely to laugh in the presence of men whom they have an attraction towards and men are more likely to be attracted to women who laugh in their presence because it makes them feel more desirable. Apparently, it is more important to men that a possible mate appreciates their humor than it is for a woman to actually possess this trait herself.
So, whether it’s due to genetic differences, social status, or prescribed gender roles and sexual politics, studies do indeed indicate that women tend to laugh more than men. While this could be looked at as a negative phenomenon in regards to women’s role in society and in relationships with men, I say “laugh it up ladies”. Even if you’re chuckling just to be polite or to attract a guy you’re the one who’s reaping all the health benefits (laugher is even a great calorie burner!).