No, really — chimps think you’re really, really funny. They are totally not laughing just to be nice to you, they really, actually think you’re funny. Promise … Just kidding. I lied. They will absolutely laugh just to be nice to you. Who would say such a thing? Researchers. Scientific researchers. Sorry. But I’m sure the chimps thought you were super nice to be around!
Dr. Marina Davila-Ross of the University of Portsmouth has been conducting research on the social behavior of chimpanzees and concluded that much like humans, chimps will mimic certain behaviors in order to bond and secure relationships.
“Humans clearly use laughter as an important response in a wide range of social situations, but it is particularly interesting that chimpanzees seem to also use laughter to respond in such distinct ways” …
“Nonetheless, their laughter might be partly managed and partly automatic.”
The distinction was made between “responsive laughter” and “compulsive,” or genuine, laughter. When they do give a responsive laugh, it’s shorter, like the half-hearted “huh” we give our friends when they think they’ve made a hilarious statement and we respond to recognize that they at least tried. “Huh — ‘A’ for effort, friend.” Though Davila-Ross says that the laughter isn’t necessarily fake laughter, more like a case of chimps showing each other that they understand that fun is being had and they want to join in.
But imagine going to the zoo, or watching chimps in their natural habitat, and seeing a group of them laughing, and there’s one who is laughing sooooo hard … and the rest have no idea why. You know there’s always one in every group.
Have a tip we should know? [email protected]