London - It’s a social skill we keep up our sleeve for those awkward moments such as a boss’s bad joke or an excruciating wedding speech.
But while we might have perfected the art of the fake laugh, even our most realistic efforts to feign amusement fool no one, according to scientists.
Their research has found people are “extremely good” at distinguishing even the most realistic sounding fake giggles.
It found volunteers could almost always tell the difference between someone genuinely erupting into laughter and what the experts called “social laughter”.
Sophie Scott, professor of cognitive neuroscience at University College London, carried out brain scans on volunteers listening to expressions of disgust, a real belly laugh and a realistic fake one.