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Recent studies suggest that laughter plays an important role in social bonding. Human communities are much larger than those of other primates and hence require more time to be devoted to social maintenance activities. Yet, there is an upper limit on the amount of time that can be dedicated to social demands, and, in nonhuman primates, this sets an upper limit on social group size. It has been suggested that laughter provides the additional bonding capacity in humans by allowing an increase in the size of the "grooming group." In this study of freely forming laughter groups, we show that laughter allows a threefold increase in the number of bonds that can be "groomed" at the same time. This would enable a very significant increase in the size of community that could be bonded. © 2012 Elsevier Inc.

Original publication




Journal article


Evolution and Human Behavior

Publication Date





775 - 779