The Loh Down On Science

Faking It

Should you fake it to impress your date?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science, saying, we're not proud of it, but we've all done it.  Faked a laugh.  And probably our dates weren't fooled.  Oops!

Genuine laughter is contagious.  But when we hear fake laughter, we know it, and respond less enthusiastically.  So maybe it's no surprise that the two types of laughter are processed differently by the brain.

So shows a new study by psychologists at the University of London.  They had 58 unsuspecting volunteers listen to recordings of people laughing.  First the volunteers heard recordings of genuine laughter.  Then they heard recordings of the same people faking laughter.

Meanwhile, equipment recorded volunteers' brain activity.

Turns out, with genuine laughter, regions associated with empathy and smiling spontaneously activated.  But with fake laughter?  Regions associated with thinking things through engaged.  Seems we suspect the laughter is fake, and we want to figure out:  Why?  Why,  why?

The findings could inform research on social interactions.

Which, even aside from dating, can be truly laughable.

***** For more 90-SECOND SCIENCE FACTS, click here.*****

The Loh Down on Science is produced by LDOS Media Lab, in partnership with the University of California, Irvine, and 89.3 KPCC. And made possible by the generous support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.


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