Why Do We Laugh at People Falling? – UNM Continuing Education

We’ve all been there. There’s a fall and someone trips or your friend slams into the sliding glass doors, then you feel like you’re a twit. It’s a common occurrence! We glorify shows like America’s Funniest Home Videos and love being amazed by the difficulties of those taking a selfie. Why do we do it? Are we crazy for laughing at the misfortune of others or stupidity? Then you’ll be pleased to learn there’s a perfectly reasonable scientific theory to explain why people are laughing at others falling. This video will explain why it is funny to laugh at pain.

First of all, laughing at falling is confined to the “play frame” or when it’s not actually serious. If someone fell from a huge height, nobody would laugh. If you’re sure the person is okay laughter can be an instinctual response to let go of your energy. We laugh because of the shock of the event as well as to relieve our emotional stress through laughter. It is possible to either smile or panic in response to any unexpected situation. It is a normal human response to events that occur suddenly.