New Study Claims Men Are Funnier Than Women

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This is sure to be controversial, but a study by psychologists and anthropologists from the University of New Mexico finds that "Humor ability reveals intelligence, predicts mating success, and is higher in males." Here's the abstract:

A good sense of humor is sexually attractive, perhaps because it reveals intelligence, creativity, and other ‘good genes’ or ‘good parent’ traits. If so, intelligence should predict humor production ability, which in turn should predict mating success. In this study, 400 university students (200 men and 200 women) completed measures of abstract reasoning, verbal intelligence, humor production ability, and mating success. Structural equation models showed that general and verbal intelligence both predict humor production ability, which in turn predicts mating success, such as lifetime number of sexual partners. Also, males showed higher average humor production ability. These results suggest that the human sense of humor evolved at least partly through sexual selection as an intelligence-indicator.

Okay. But I have a few concerns. Namely: what's funny is often subjective, and I'm not certain that a random selection of scientists in New Mexico are the world's most qualified judges of "humor production ability." Also, this study suggests that funny people are smarter (which I can get behind) but also that they get more dates than less-funny people. And I am almost positive that can't be right. I mean, maybe it seems to scientists that comedians get all the ladies, but what about all the hilarious nerds we knew (and, like, were) in high school who ground our teeth at the thought of less-funny-and-smart jocks dating the proverbial cheerleaders? (My school had no actual cheerleaders -- hence, proverbial. There were proverbs.)

Also, I feel like this whole idea of funnier-and-smarter-gets-more-dates is biased towards men, because I'm sure there are lots of funny, smart women who felt pressure as young women to appear less smart than they really were. My hunch is that, for women, being funny and smart is not rewarded in the same way.

What do you think?

June 20, 2011 - 6:50am
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