Can a person change the way he laughs?

I watched a movie today, and the guy sitting behind me had just absolutely the most obnoxious laugh I have ever heard. Think Amadeus with a sprinkling of stereotyped mentally-handicapped-laugh. And loud. I am a very nice person, and I was having fantasies of getting up at the end of the movie and berating this poor guy for daring to go out in public and ruin everyone’s experience with his laugh.

Well anyway, it led me to wonder. Can a person habituate him- or herself into a new laugh? Or are we pretty much stuck with the laugh we have as an instinctive reflex?

Possibly. Back in college, I had an odd laugh since I tended to laugh as I inhaled.* I don’t do that nowadays, though I will say I didn’t particularly do anything to change it.

*If you really want to keep laughing forever, get a bunch of people to start laughing at another person’s laugh.

Yes, and obviously yes. We have quite a bit of conscious control over our actions and behaviors.

It might be harder for someone to change his laughter when he is taken entirely by surprise. Surprised laughter is less amenable to conscious control. But even surprised behavior can be changed. People can learn, for instance, not to scream when startled.

I think there is something that might be called a person’s ‘natural laugh’. You can control your behavior and develop new habits, your ‘natural laugh’ might even change over the span of your life without any deliberate effort. However, I think that ‘natural laugh’ is always there somewhere. I’m pretty good at getting it out of people.

If so, please somebody teach Seth Lloyd how.

But doesn’t laughter generally happen upon surprise? I mean, I hardly ever tell myself to ‘laugh now’…

Maybe a singing teachter could do this?

I know what you mean, though. I used to have a co-worker whose nickname was the Horse, and it was well deserved.

It was kind of reassuring, in a way, that she could have such an obnoxious and loud laugh and still not be punished socially in any major way.

Myself, I used to have a very gummy smile. Think Stan from Stan and Ollie. I taught myself to smile with my teeth showing when I was 16 or so.

Can we tell Seth Rogen too? He’s an actor, for goodness’ sake: he should act his way into a less irritating laugh. He was on the Daily Show this week and I had to skip the interview because it was bugging me.

You can modulate your behavior, whether it’s an obnoxious laugh or shrieky loud sneezes. It does take effort, and overcoming long-term bad habits can be difficult.

I sometimes wonder whether grotesque and loud laughter is a deal-breaker for those seeking a life partner. There are certainly people whose laughter is so annoying, it’s hard to see who could stand to live with them.

Thankfully, Mrs. J.'s laughter is highly enjoyable and one of my goals is to provoke it when possible. :slight_smile:

Yes. I have changed my laugh a few times, mostly when I was influenced by the laughter of the people around me.

Like coughs, sneezes, and belches, laughter can be controlled to some extent beyond the simple do/don’t of all semi-autonomous reflexes.

Well, like, if you’re at a comedy club, you sort of expect it. If you’re in the middle of making love…not so much! (And, oh, the consequences!)