Drop the Pickup Lines for Punchlines, Says Study on Humor in Romance

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Humor in RomanceResearch from the University of Kansas offers new insights into how humor affects how people are attracted to each other. Humor is often cited as a valuable trait in a partner because of how it lets you assess someone else’s intelligence. The study attempted to find a link between humor and intelligence and how these played into relationships.

Three studies were performed and are reported on in a recently published paper in the Evolutionary Psychology journal.

The first study compared Facebook profiles of 100 strangers to their personalities and surveys they completed. Humor was correlated to extroversion more than intelligence, which was corroborated by how strangers viewed the participants. The men and women in the study also posted comparable amounts of humorous content to their Facebook pages.

The second study had 300 students fill out a survey on humor in relationships, with the results compared against their GPA and ACT scores. No correlation with intelligence was found, but again a connection to extroversion was identified. This study also noted that men and women did not appear to understand or appreciate humor differently.

The third study used 102 single, homosexual men and women. They were paired up and asked to sit alone in a room and talk for 10 minutes. After, they filled out a survey about the humor involved and how interested they were in a potential date with their partner.

Results from the third study showed that the more times a man tried to be funny, and the more times the woman laughed, the more likely the woman was romantically interested. The rate was highest when they laughed together. No connection was found with the women’s attempt at humor.

Since no link between intelligence and humor was identified, researcher Jeffrey Hall offered four theories on why it is considered important in courtship. Humor could suggest someone has an agreeable or sociable personality. Men may use humor to gauge a woman’s potential interest. The joker/laugher relationship may simply be a part of the dating “script,” much like assumed preferences regarding who picks up restaurant bills or asks someone out. Lastly, Hall theorized that humor may simply be valuable for its own sake since sharing laughter is an overall enjoyable experience that can help strengthen relationships.

How humor affects heterosexual courtship or courtship in other cultures was not within the scope of this study.

Source for Today’s Article:
Hall, J. A. “Sexual Selection and Humor in Courtship: A Case for Warmth and Extroversion,” Evolutionary Psychology, 2015; http://evp.sagepub.com/content/13/3/1474704915598918.short, last accessed September 3, 2015.




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Adrian has been working in the information publishing world since 1997. But when it comes to health information, he’s a self-admitted late bloomer. A couch potato since pre-school, Adrian was raised on TV, video games and a lifestyle that led to childhood obesity that followed him well into adulthood. But when he hit his forties, he decided enough was enough. He had a family to take care of and his days of overeating, under-exercising and inactivity were going to lead... Read Full Bio »