New study shows the importance of laughter in improving wellbeing

26 February 2019

Researchers at the University of Derby have developed a new smartphone concept called ‘the Laughie’, which has been shown to significantly improve people’s overall wellbeing through encouraging them to laugh. 

The Laughie works in a similar way to a Selfie, but instead of taking a photo of yourself you record your own joyful laughter for one minute using your smartphone’s inbuilt recording software. You can then listen and laugh with your Laughie, whenever you have a minute, to increase your wellbeing. 

The study was conceived and conducted by Freda Gonot Schoupinsky, an online MSc Health Psychology student at the University of Derby, and supervised by Dr Gulcan Garip, to investigate the impact of laughter on wellbeing, and to answer calls from the medical community for a practical laughter prescription.

Freda said: “My research explored whether the Laughie could be feasible as a way of helping people to laugh and ultimately improve their wellbeing. The Laughie is designed to be an easy laughter prescription; it only takes one minute and can be used alone. This enables regular laughter, including for those who may not laugh a lot socially such as the depressed, lonely, or elderly living alone.”

During the study, 21 participants (aged 25 to 93) created a Laughie and used it three times a day for one week. The Laughie was shown to be a feasible, enjoyable and effective laughter prescription tool, with participants reporting a range of benefits:

Previous studies have suggested laughter has several physical, psychological and social benefits, including decreasing stress hormones, boosting the immune system, reducing pain, improving mood and increasing resilience. The psychological and physiological effects of laughter can increase optimism, energy and cognitive function, while decreasing anxiety, stress, loneliness, depression and tension, leading to a great deal of interest in interventions which focus on inducing laughter.

Freda added: “Laughter is a universal sign of joy. Laughter is contagious and this study is the first to show that it can also be self-contagious. This enables us to use our own laughter to benefit our health and wellbeing. Laughing with the Laughie is a quick and easy exercise to add to your daily routine.

“Using a Laughie is a new experience, and during the study we identified four ‘smart laughter’ (laughing in a smart way, for a smart reason, on a smartphone) techniques that participants found most helpful: ‘natural is best’, ‘enjoy it your way’, ‘train to gain’ and ‘laugh for a reason’, such as for health and happiness. 

You can read the abstract to the paper here, or the full paper here. 

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