Neuroscientist Robert Provine points out that ‘laughter evolved because of its effect on others, not to improve our mood or health.’ Group laughter suggests the members’ guard is down. ‘When our brains are relaxed, we can more easily achieve free idea association, which can lead to creativity.’
I often find that some levity, leading to light laughter, helps mediating parties to have a better conversation. However, one must always be careful not to appear to be trivializing what is an important event, and opportunity, for the parties.
In arbitration hearings, arbitrators must be very careful that any remarks that might generate laughter are not at a participant’s expense.