E. R Bressler and S. Balshine (2006)
The influence of humor on desirability
Evolution and Human Behavior, 27(1):29-39.
Humorous interaction is a ubiquitous aspect of human social behavior, yet the function of humor has rarely been studied from a Darwinian perspective. One exception is Miller's theory that one's ability to produce high-quality humor functioned as a fitness indicator, and hence, humor production and appreciation have evolved as a result of sexual selection. In this study, we examined whether there are sex differences in attraction to humorous individuals, and whether using humor influences perceptions of humorists' personality traits. We experimentally manipulated how humorous two-stimulus persons were perceived to be by presenting them with autobiographical statements that were either funny or not. Participants chose which person was a more desirable partner for a romantic relationship, and which individual was more likely to have several personality traits. Only women evaluating men chose humorous people as preferred relationship partners. For both sexes, humorous individuals were seen as less intelligent and trustworthy than their nonhumorous counterparts, but as more socially adept. These results are discussed in light of sexual selection theory. (c) 2006 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.