From Funerals To Break-Ups – All The Times Brits Have Laughed Inappropriately

It could be the brain's way of diffusing tension, one researcher suggests.
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If you’ve ever fought the urge to laugh during a serious moment, you’re not alone.

A nationwide survey has revealed nine out of 10 people have burst into hysterics at an inappropriate moment, with 70% saying they regularly feel inclined to crack up even though they know if would be frowned upon.

The survey of 2,000 Brits found almost two thirds admitted to having chuckled when watching someone hurt themselves, while 19% have got the giggles while being disciplined by their boss.

Three in 10 have laughed out loud during sex, while 17% had to fight the urge to laugh during a serious religious ceremony, such as a funeral.

Other times people have laughed inappropriately include:

:: Seeing someone walk into a lamppost (52%)

:: Trying to pronounce a difficult name (31%)

:: During a tragic moment in a film (30%)

:: Dealing with a child having a tantrum (25%)

:: Seeing a friend’s baby for the first time (11%)

:: Watching their kids perform in a school play (14%)

:: Being dumped (14%)

:: Being told their partner was cheating on them (8%)

:: Being told they were ill (6%).

Jordan Raine, a PhD researcher into “human non-verbal vocalisations” at the University of Sussex, believes inappropriate laughter could be the brain’s way of diffusing tension, or a defensive coping mechanism when you are faced with something traumatic or distressing.

“This can sometimes occur as fits of nervous laughter in immediate reaction to some event, perhaps serving to protect ourselves against the true nature of what we’re witnessing,” said Raine.

There can be repercussions, however, with just under a third of people being tutted at. And one in five Brits said they ended up getting into a row because of their ill-timed laughter.

The survey, commissioned by flight provider Netflights, found that when it comes to strategies to hide laughter, more than a third of people have pretended they were actually coughing, while 22% had to leave the room. (Perhaps a strategy to use next time it happens to you.)