Laughter Isn't Always the Best Medicine

Some countries are more insecure than others with higher rates of gelotophobia (fear of being laughed at)

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Laughing -- and laughing at others -- is a universal phenomenon. So, too, is the fear of being laughed at, according to a study from the University of Zurich.

Gelotophobia (the excessive fear of being laughed at) transcends cultures and customs the world over, according to the study, which included the participation of researchers from 73 other countries.

Researchers commissioned 93 scientists to administer a questionnaire (translated into 42 different languages), and sampled some 22,610 people in order to find out whether they suffered from gelotophobia.

The results were varied, with only 8 percent of people in Finland believing people laughing in their presence were laughing at them, whereas 80 percent of Thai people believe this to be the case. Countries such as Turkmenistan and Cambodia were found to be very secure, for the most part, in their beliefs that they were not being laughed at, and Spain fell somewhere in the middle with slight inclination toward the more insecure side of the spectrum.

Gelotophobia comes from the Greek gelos, which means "laugh," and phobos, which means "fear."

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
February 23, 2011
Last Updated:
February 23, 2011