The origin of laughter Reading Questions and Answers

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  • IELTS Reading True/False/Not given
  • IELTS Reading Matching Features
  • IELTS Reading Summary Completion

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IELTS reading passage –  the origin of laughter

The origin of laughter

A Having a good time and making other people laugh is the pinnacle of civilization, in our opinion. Humans have such large brains that we can find humour in seemingly serious situations, such as clever wordplay, unexpected plot twists, and exaggerated settings. But while laughter has always existed, humans have invented wit and humour. Gorillas, chimpanzees, and even mice don’t just enjoy a good belly laugh. The mere fact that they can laugh at all suggests that laughter predates mankind. Homer Simpson or his boss’ attempts at humour are decidedly devoid of humour. It alludes to laughter’s historical roots and suggests that it serves a far more important function than first thought.

B     There is little doubt that the vast majority of laughter takes place in social settings. Laughter, according to University of Maryland neurologist Robert Provine, nearly wholly disappears when we are alone since it developed as a social signal. Provine found that most laughter is a courteous response to popular phrases such as “see you later.” Moreover, the manner in which we laugh varies based on our company. Males tend to laugh louder and longer when surrounded by other males, possibly as a kind of bonding. Women’s increased frequency and volume of laughter in the presence of men is sometimes interpreted as flirtation or even submissiveness.

C     Provine suggests analyzing the play for inspiration for the comic. Children, he says, are true masters of humour because of their ability to prank and subvert expectations. Two of the most renowned primatologists in the world, Dian Fossey and Jane Goodall, have long contended that chimpanzees laugh when they’re having fun. They generate a breathless giggle. Observing their behaviour and realising that they share our itchy spots makes it evident that they do so. Without background, it’s harder to see how human laughter is similar to the ordinary pant laugh of chimpanzees. Each of Mr Provine’s 119 students heard themselves on tape “pant laughter.”

D     In light of these findings, it is clear that chimpanzees and humans laugh very differently. In order to create the sounds associated with laughter, one typically breaks up a single expiration into a series of brief exhalations. The question is, does that laughter come from the same source as our laughter? Well, new research supports the conclusion. Elke Zimmermann, director of the German Zoological Institute, studied the sounds that babies and chimpanzees make when tickled during the first year of life. Using vocalisation spectrographs, which analyse the pitch and volume of sounds, she discovered similarities between the laughter of chimpanzees and human infants. According to Zimmermann, the similarities between infant laughter and chimpanzee laughter lend credence to the idea that laughter pre-existed in humans. What began as an intentional shift in breathing has developed into a cultural shorthand for joyful expression and congenial social engagement.

E     Looking back into antiquity is the only way to pinpoint where laughing first appeared. Animals may have laughed as far back as 8 million years ago, before the time of the common ancestor of humans and chimps. Anecdotal evidence suggests that other social animals, including potential gorillas and other primates with distant kinships, such as orangutans, laugh. Scientists are currently investigating the plausibility of such claims by analysing the rates at which different animals laugh. The best evidence for laughter in animals other than primates comes from a study by Jaak Panksepp of Bowling Green State University, Ohio, on ultrasonic vocalizations in rats in response to play and tickling.

F     Who can say what it is that makes us laugh? A mother’s first instincts are to make her infant laugh and tickle. It’s possible that this talent evolved to help mothers and their babies bond. The reasons humans display defensive responses to tickling are (a) to warn of the presence of potentially harmful crawling insects and (b) training to protect the most vulnerable areas of the body in close combat. It’s for, In recent years, the idea that tickling can be used as a means of human communication and as a means of assessing laughter-inducing self-confidence has received increasing attention. The idea stems from the fact that tickling initially annoys you, but quickly annoys you. Tom Frampton, a researcher at the University of California, Los Angeles, believes humour can act as a reliable signal. Rats respond positively to play, tickling, and humour. This could be the reason why doing these things is so effective in fostering trust. Flamingo claims that young rats can be heard from far away. It only takes the lightest touch to activate this chirp. They’ve decided to talk to us, which is a sign of their confidence in us.

G     It is impossible to pinpoint which animal laughed first or why. However, I’m sure it wasn’t an outdated joke. Regardless of the serious potential origins of laughter, we owe both language-based humour and human laughter to the same unique capacity. Only humans can properly control their breathing and are therefore the only animals capable of producing laughter. Without this rule, no humorous situations are allowed.

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The origin of laughter reading questions

Questions 1‐3

Do the following statements agree with the information given in Reading Passage 1? In boxes 1‐3 on your answer sheet, 

TRUE if the statement is true 
FALSE if the statement is false 
NOT GIVEN if the information is not given in passage 

  1. Both men and women laugh more with individuals of their own gender.
  2. Primates lack the necessary respiratory control to produce human-like laughter.
  3. Chimpanzees laugh in a greater variety of scenarios than rats.

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Questions 4‐9

Look at the following research findings (questions 4‐9) and the list of people below. Match each finding with the correct person A, B, C or D. Write the correct letter, A, B, C or D, in boxes 4‐9 on your answer sheet. NB You may use any letter more than once. 

  • Tom Flamson 
  • Elke Zimmerman 
  • Robert Provine 
  • Jaak Panksepp 

4.Babies and chimpanzees generate similar sounds of laughter.
5.Laughter Pan is not exclusively created by primates.6.Laughter makes us feel at ease and safe with others.
7.Laughter is a response to a polite circumstance rather than humour.
8.Animal laughter arose before human laughter.
9.Laughter is considered a social activity.

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Questions 10‐13

Complete the summary using the list of words, A‐K, below. Complete the summary using the list of words, A‐K, below. Write the correct letter, A‐K, in boxes 10‐13 on your answer sheet. 

Some researchers believe that laughter first evolved out of 10__________ The investigation has revealed that human and chimp laughter may have the same 11__________ Besides, scientists have been aware that 12__________ laugh, however, it now seems that laughter might be more widespread than once we thought. Although the reasons why humans started to laugh are still unknown, it seems that laughter may result from the 13__________ we feel with another person.

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The origin of laughter reading answers

1. False
2. True
3. Not given 
4. B
5. D
6. A 
7. C
8. B
9. C 
10. I 
11. C
12. G 
13. E 


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