Figuring out how to make friends as an adult can be a difficult task — so much so that they’ve even invented a Tinder-like app to find female friends. Sure, we can meet a cool spotting partner at our gym or a study buddy during our night classes — but how exactly are we supposed to know whether that single-avenue relationship can blossom into a fully fledged I-can-text-you-at-two-in-the-morning-and-you-won’t-be-mad-at-mefriendship? Well, according to a new study out of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), there’s one simple way to determine if you and your new friend are actually close — and it is way easier than you may think.


UCLA professors Greg Bryant and Daniel Fessler decided to use the power of laughter to test whether or not random participants could determine if a pair were complete strangers or good friends. Using a variety of one-second audio clips of people laughing, Bryant and Fessler asked 966 listeners from 24 different cultures — from Austria to rural Peru — to determine whether the laughing pairs were friends or strangers. The study, which was published in April 2016 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, yielded some incredible results. On average, the participants were correct 61 percent of the time, which is much higher than the statistical average. However, what’s really interesting is the participants’ ability to identify female-only friendships. On average, participants in every single culture were able to identify whether the women laughing were friends or strangers with a staggering 80 percent accuracy.


But why exactly can we tell whether people laughing are friends or not? Well, according to Bryant, it is actually quite simple. In an interview with Live Science, Bryant says that when people laugh among friends, their laugh tends to sound more excited: “It is often faster and has more irregularities in frequency and loudness that gives it an aroused sound.” So, instead of the quiet mousey laugh that you break out when your boss tells you a long-winded story about her four-day weekend, laughing with your friends often means completely letting go of any insecurities and belly-laughing to your heart’s content. So if you really want to know whether you and your newest acquaintance are actually friends, science says it’s time to start cracking some jokes — if they roll over with laughter, you just might have found the newest member of your #squad.

Can you tell if people are friends just by the way they laugh? Let us know on Twitter by mentioning @BritandCo.

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