You never hear about a tiger laughing

Wednesday, May 16th, 2018

What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned from personality psychology?” Tyler Cowen asks Bryan Caplan:

At least one thing that might be a good answer is that cheerfulness loads on extroversion.

There’s something actually very social about happiness. When you read this, it makes so much sense — how little of happiness seems to be about material possessions and how much of it is about having good relationships with other people.

You can think about animals. When I read you something about animals, the animals that laugh, they’re all social animals. Dogs laugh, chimpanzees laugh, humans laugh. You never hear about a tiger laughing, these very asocial animals. At least that’s one that I often do think about, is this connection between social interaction and being happy.


  1. Kirk says:

    You don’t hear about a tiger laughing…? Hmmm.

    I don’t think the person who wrote this knows squat about animal behavior, because I’ve talked to folks who train and handle the big cats, and the one thing they all mentioned is that all of them have senses of humor. Hell, look at YouTube for examples of where the cats are playing games and pouncing on each other, stalking, and all of that sort of thing.

    Most animals that raise their young for any length of time have socialization skills and a capacity that has to be described as “senses of humor”, or they’d eat their young about the first time that tiger cub stalks and “kills” their mother’s tail-tip.

    The authors other points are probably relatively accurate, but when you find an example of something so specious and ill-researched, you start to question the validity of everything else they write.

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