• Question: Why do we laugh at others' misfortune and insults when it is quite obviously not funny?

    Asked by ogoldfinch09 to Laura, Lena, Sean on 22 Mar 2012.
    • Photo: Sean Murphy

      Sean Murphy answered on 22 Mar 2012:

      I think this is an example of nervous laughter, as an expression of embarrassment, alarm, discomfort or confusion, rather than amusement. People may laugh nervously when exposed to stress due to witnessing others’ pain, or when they need to project dignity and control during times of stress and anxiety. In these situations we usually laugh in a subconscious attempt to reduce stress and calm down.