Podcast #7 Laughter Yoga: The Trouble With Research

ResearchToday’s podcast is somewhat different to the first six podcasts which I’ve released, with the main reason being that it’s not an interview based podcast. Although I really enjoy doing the interviews, the time span of approximately 30 minutes per podcast, doesn’t allow sufficient time for me to get into the actual science of laughter research, which is after all, implied in the name of the podcast – The Laughter Research Podcast.

You might remember that before I got into the interview in episode number one, I introduced myself and I explained that some of the conversations that I would be having would be based upon anecdotal evidence and that some of them would be based upon scientific evidence. It transpires that scheduling a balanced variety is a lot more difficult than I expected and as a result, the majority of my interviews so far have been heavier on the anecdotes than they are on the science front.

I enjoy all of the interviews, no matter the style and I see great value in all of the conversations I have, but I feel that it’s important to try to get the balance right. I do have a number of academic guests lined up for interviews in the near future, so I’m really looking forward to getting into the science of laughter research in greater detail in those interviews.

In the meantime, while I’m working on finalising dates for those interviews, I felt it would be interesting to go back over the interviews that I have done so far, to apply some science to the topics which came up in them. So, today, I’m going to start with the topic of episode number one – Laughter Yoga.

Laughter Yoga is a very interesting phenomenon from a scientific perspective, because it’s so challenging to study in a rigorous way. There are various reasons for this, which I get into in greater detail in the podcast. I also delve into some of the existing research on the subject and I ask to what extent is the laughter aspect of Laughter Yoga the primary factor in promoting changes in people’s well-being?

During the episode I mention the difficulty which arises when one tries to define laughter and that I’ll provide a couple of funny definitions for laughter from some well known dictionaries. Here are three. The first two are funny because they offer a circular definition. The third one is just plain funny:

Merriam Webster Dictionary:

A sound of or as if of laughing

The Free Dictionary by Farflex:

The action of or noise produced by laughing

Urban Dictionary:

When a smile has an orgasm

References:

Martin, R. A. (2002). Is Laughter the Best Medicine? Humor, Laughter, and Physical Health. Current Directions in Psychological Science (Wiley-Blackwell), 11(6), 216-220.

Shahidi, M., Mojtahed, A., Modabbernia, A., Mojtahed, M., Shafiabady, A., Delavar, A., & Honari, H. (2011). Laughter yoga versus group exercise program in elderly depressed women: a randomized controlled trial. Int J Geriatr Psychiatry, 26(3), 322-327. doi: 10.1002/gps.2545

Wildgruber, D., Szameitat, D. P., Ethofer, T., Brück, C., Alter, K., Grodd, W., & Kreifelts, B. (2013). Different Types of Laughter Modulate Connectivity within Distinct Parts of the Laughter Perception Network. PLoS ONE, 8(5), e63441. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0063441

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