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International Journal of Humor Research

Editor-in-Chief: Kuipers, Giselinde

4 Issues per year

IMPACT FACTOR gestiegen in 2014: 0.481
5-year IMPACT FACTOR: 1.061

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2014: 0.378
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2014: 0.949
Impact per Publication (IPP) 2014: 0.806

ERIH category INT2



The laughter of the 1962 Tanganyika ‘laughter epidemic’

Citation Information: Humor – International Journal of Humor Research. Volume 20, Issue 1, Pages 49–71, ISSN (Online) 1613-3722, ISSN (Print) 0933-1719, DOI: 10.1515/HUMOR.2007.003, March 2007

Publication History

Published Online:


The present article discusses the role of laughter in the much cited ‘laughter epidemic’ that occurred in Tanganyika in 1962. Despite its extraordinary nature, the veracity of the event is confirmed, crucially on the basis of similar reports. But most current representations are flawed by their exaggeration and misinterpretation of the role of laughter in the event, relating it to a humorous stimulus, a virus or environmental contaminant, or identifying it as contagious laughter. It is argued that the event is a motor-variant case of mass psychogenic illness of which laughter is one common symptom. Therefore it cannot serve as support for other arguments in humor research.

Keywords: Africa; Laughter; laughter epidemic; mass hysteria; mass psychogenic illness; Tanganyika

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Yann Auxéméry
Annales Médico-psychologiques, revue psychiatrique, 2012, Volume 170, Number 8, Page 527

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