Have a lot of fun! Study finds that Japanese and Dutch people are able to tell if someone is from the same place by the sounds of their laughs.

  • University of Amsterdam experts captured the laughter of individuals 
  • They then played these audio clips to 273 Dutch and 131 Japanese listeners
  • The sound of laughter seems to contain vocal information about its producers
  • It was found that spontaneous rather than forced laughter seemed to be more positive for the group. 
  • But Dutch listeners rated the laughter of their countrymen as the most positive

A study concluded that both Japanese and Dutch people are able to recognize their countrymen simply by hearing their laughter.

The University of Amsterdam researchers recorded different kinds of laughter from volunteers in Japan and the Netherlands.

They then played these clips to a total of 404 Dutch and Japanese participants, who were able to tell if the laugher belonged to the same cultural group as them.

Specifically, Dutch listeners identified the laughter correctly in 73–76 per cent of the time (depending on laughter type) and Japanese listeners 77 per cent of the time.

Spontaneous — rather than forced — laughter was rated as most positive by both groups, but Dutch listeners rated Dutch laughter as being the most positive of all.

These findings are consistent with growing evidence that laughter may be a powerful vocal signal that can be used by listeners to infer various things about people. 

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Both Dutch and Japanese people can recognise their fellow countrymen by listening to the sound of their laughter alone, a study has concluded

A study concluded that both Japanese and Dutch people are able to recognize their countrymen simply by hearing their laughter.


Research published earlier this year determined that at least 65 known animals can laugh just like humans. 

California-based experts looked through previous studies about animal behaviour to discover vocal signalling that may be indicative of laughter. 

These are some of the animals that engaged in voice-based play.

  • Australian magpies 
  • Cows
  • Dogs
  • Foxes
  • Hyenas 
  • Mongooses 
  • Seals 
  • Parakeets 
  • Various primates

A strong non-verbal vocalisation, laughter can be used as a signal of affiliation, reward, or cooperative intent and it can serve to strengthen social bonds.

Two types of laughter can be distinguished. The first, ‘spontaneous’, is an uncontrolled reaction — such as to a hilarious joke — and manifests with distinctive acoustic features that are difficult to fake.

Voluntary laughter is the result of the intentional modulation of the vocal output and produces the type of sounds you would make to politely respond to a lame joke.

As the latter is produced with greater vocal control, it can encode more information about the person laughing — and, accordingly, previous studies have shown that we can better identify speakers based on voluntary, rather than spontaneous, laughter.

Studies have also shown us that emotional expressions from others from different cultural groups are easier to understand. Each group has its own unique nuances, which listeners may pick up. 

In their study, psychologist Roza Kamiloğlu of the University of Amsterdam and her colleagues wanted, building on these past works, to explore whether laughter type influences our ability to identify not individual people, but groups.

The researchers recruited 273 individuals from the Netherlands and 131 from Japan and played them — without context — audio clips of either spontaneous or voluntary laughter produced by fellow Dutch and Japanese individuals.

Each participant was asked to judge whether the laughter was spontaneous or voluntary, whether it was made by someone of the same cultural group and how they would rank its positivity on a seven-point scale.

Contrary to their hypothesis that group identity would be easier to determine based on voluntary laughter, the team found that the subjects were able to determine nationality equally well from both spontaneous and voluntary laughter.

Unsurprisingly, spontaneous laughter in both cultures was considered more encouraging than voluntary laughter.

However, the results indicated that in-group laughter was perceived as being more positive than out-group laughter and the Dutch — but not Japanese — listeners. 

‘Our results demonstrate that listeners can detect whether a laughing person is from their own or another cultural group at better-than-chance accuracy levels based on only hearing a brief laughter segment,’ the researchers said.

We found no benefit to the belief that volunteers would identify group members better than participants, contrary to what we had hoped.

Philosophical Transactions B published the full results of this study. 


According to British adults, the top 10 most amusing and confusing jokes are equal in length.

Percentages refer to how many survey respondents said that they read the surveys more than once before they understood them/before they thought they were funny. 

1. How can you drown a Hipster! The mainstream (46%). 

2. Time moves like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana (45 per cent) 

3. Unluckily, I was hit by a glass of Omega 3 vitamins when I opened my cupboard. Super fish oil injuries (40%). 

4. How does one milk sheeps? iPhone Accessories (38%) 

5. Is it possible to put in a lightbulb with only three surrealists? A fish (36 per cent) 

6. What does an accountant do when constipated. 35 percent) They use a pencil to solve the problem. 

7. I was asked by a cowboy if I could round up 18 cows. I replied, “Yes, that’s right.” It’s 20% cows (33%) 

8. The barman asks a horse why he has such a long face. (29 per cent) 

9. What is the nightly routine of a dyslexic and agnostic insomniac? He lies awake at night wondering if there’s a dog. (28%). 

10. The fridge magnet I received was very well-received. So far, I’ve got 12 fridges (18 per cent)