You've probably heard some motherly person say, "It isn't polite to laugh at others' expense."
That probably hasn't always stopped you, either. Let's face it: Whether you were a bully in school or the kid getting picked on, you've found yourself breaking this rule at some point.
We may think of cruel laughter as insensitive and out of touch today, but it's been around for a long time [source: Morreall]. In the late Middle Ages, for instance, there's record of residents buying a condemned criminal from a different town just so they could enjoy quartering him themselves [source: Morreall].
Add to that derisive laughter's place in ancient texts. It appears several times in Homer's "Iliad" and even in the Bible [source: Morreall].
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- Asian Economic News. "Laughing their way to good health." April 30, 2001. (May 11, 2009)http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0WDP/is_2001_April_30/ai_73852620/?tag=content;col1
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- Furnham, Adrian, Ella Hutson and Allastaire McClelland. "The Effect of Gender of Canned Laughter on Television Programme Appreciation." North American Journal of Psychology. Vol. 13, no. 3, pages 391-402. 2011. http://www.freepatentsonline.com/article/North-American-Journal-Psychology/274955408.html
- Griffin, R. Morgan. "What is Laughter, and Why Do We Do It?" WebMD. (May 11, 2009)http://men.webmd.com/features/why-we-laugh
- Hargis, Owen D.W., ed. "The Handbook of Communication Skills." Routledge. 1998. (May 11, 2009)http://books.google.com/books?id=IVSxsljxndsC&printsec=frontcover&dq=handbook+of+communication+skills
- Longstaff, Ben. "It's all fun and laughter for giggling girls and grunting guys." New Scientist. Sept. 29, 2001. (May 11, 2009)http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg17123101.500-its-all-fun-and-laughter-for-giggling-girls-and-grunting-guys.html
- McCarthy, Susan. "Laugh Track." Salon. Sept. 8, 1999. (May 11, 2009) http://www.salon.com/health/feature/1999/09/08/laughter/index.html
- Morreall, John. "Taking Laughter Seriously." State University of New York Press. 1982. (March 18, 2012) http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=AZDijPlKlZYC&oi=fnd&pg=PR9&dq=snort+laughter&ots=YVl595P2Q3&sig=rrq7BrJc5YUOTeKZRhE7DpaiIvw#v=onepage&q=snort&f=false
- Ong, Anthony D. and Manfred H.M. Van Dulmen, ed. "Oxford Handbook of Methods in Positive Psychology." Oxford University Press. 2007. (May 11, 2009) http://books.google.com/books?id=J-56UuMY9CkC&printsec=frontcover&dq=oxford+handbook+of+methods+in+positive+psychology
- New York Times. "Suppress a Nervous Laugh." Aug. 22, 1909. (May 11, 2009) http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?res=9A0DE2DE143EE033A25751C2A96E9C946897D6CF
- Priyadarshinia Academy. "What Happens During Laughter Therapy Session." (May 11, 2009)http://www.priyadarshniacademy.com/laughter-therapy/what-happens.html
- Provine, Robert R. "Laughter." American Scientist. Vol. 84, no. 1. Pages 38-47. Jan.-Feb. 1996. (March 18, 2012) http://cogweb.ucla.edu/Abstracts/Provine_96.html
- Sebastian, Simone. "Examining 1962's laughter epidemic." The Chicago Times. July 29, 2003. (March 19, 2012) http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2003-07-29/features/0307290281_1_laughing-40th-anniversary-village
- Tierney, John. "What's So Funny? Well, Maybe Nothing." New York Times. March 13, 2007. (May 11, 2009) http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/13/science/13tier.html?_r=2&scp=3&sq=laughter%20power&st=cse
- Trump, Eric. "Got the Giggles? Join the Club." New York Times. July 27, 2002. (May 11, 2009) http://www.nytimes.com/2002/07/27/arts/27LAUG.html?scp=2&sq=madan%20kataria&st=cse
- University of Chicago Press Journals. "The First Laugh: New Study Posits Evolutionary Origins of Two Distinct Types of Laughter." ScienceDaily. Nov. 22, 2005. (May 11, 2009) http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/11/051122184228.htm
- Van Dyk, Dee. "Living better through laughter." Canadian Living. (May 11, 2009) http://www.canadianliving.com/health/mind_and_spirit/living_better_through_laughter.php
- Vanderbilt University, Vocal Acoustics Laboratory. (March 18, 2012) http://www.psy.vanderbilt.edu/faculty/bachorowski/laugh.htm
- Walters, Stan B. "The Truth about Lying." Sourcebooks. 2000. (May 11, 2009)http://books.google.com/books?id=lHjfnY_deO0C&printsec=frontcover&dq=truth+about+lying
A study that wasn't even about kissing turned out to (sort of) explain why we kiss with our eyes closed. HowStuffWorks explains.