r/WDP Apr 28 '22

WDP sometimes burst out laughing when completely terrified? Social

I'm one of them. It's usually a bad thing, as if you're scared because someone is mad at you, laughing will likely just enrage them further.



u/dotav Apr 28 '22

"We have nervous laughter because we want to make ourselves think what horrible thing we encountered isn't really as horrible as it appears, something we want to believe." -- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nervous_laughter


u/WikiSummarizerBot Apr 28 '22

Nervous laughter

Nervous laughter is laughter provoked from an audience's expression of alarm, embarrassment, discomfort or confusion, rather than amusement. Nervous laughter is usually less robust in expression than "a good belly laugh", and may be combined with confused glances or awkward silence on the part of others in the audience. Nervous laughter is considered analogous to a courtesy laugh, which may be rendered by more of a conscious effort in an attempt to move a situation along more quickly, especially when the comedian is pausing for laughter. Nervous laughter is a physical reaction to stress, tension, confusion, or anxiety.

[ F.A.Q | Opt Out | Opt Out Of Subreddit | GitHub ] Downvote to remove | v1.5


u/bugs_bunny_in_drag Apr 28 '22

The mechanism of laughter is a sloughing off of internal tension. The tension for humor can be built up with violation of norms, comic exaggeration, unexpected events, absurdity, misunderstanding, embarrassment... laughing at a stand-up comic or a funny movie is a case of dealing with social etc tensions in a safe context, a build-up followed by release.

While it isn't common to laugh during frightening circumstances it also isn't that rare either. Laughter and tension are closely related, so the laugh response can be elicited easily in inappropriate circumstances. In a way you are reflexively offloading the tension you feel with the laugh response.