Brain and Body

Humor Gets The Girl

September 16, 2015 | Kelly Tatera

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Humor may be one of the most important factors in initiating a new relationship, according to new sociology research.

Ditch the cheesy pickup lines and work on your sense of humor if you’re looking to start a lasting relationship. New research at the University of Kansas suggests that laughter is one of the most important elements in initiating and developing a relationship.

Jeffrey Hall, an associate professor of communication studies at the University of Kansas, concluded this during his search for a link between humor and intelligence. Women often claim that humor is one of the most valued traits in a partner because it brings fun to the relationship as well as boasting the smarts of a potential mate.

In the study, published in the journal Evolutionary Psychology, Hall says that when two strangers meet, the chances of a woman being interested in dating increase with each successful attempt at humor from the male. The more a woman laughs at your jokes, the more her interest builds.

"The idea that humor is a signal of intelligence doesn't give humor its due credit," Hall said. "If you meet someone who you can laugh with, it might mean your future relationship is going to be fun and filled with good cheer.”

In Hall’s first study, participants looked at the Facebook profiles of 100 strangers to try and gauge their personalities. These evaluations were then compared with surveys completed by the Facebook users. Humorous people were much more likely to be extroverted than intelligent, and the strangers saw them in that way, too. Hall also found that men and women seem to post similar amounts of humorous content to their pages— comedy is an important function for both sexes.

In the second study, about 300 students took a survey on humor in dating. Hall looked at the GPA and ACT scores of the study participants, and found there was no connection between intelligence and self-reported levels of humor. However, just like in the first study, he found a connection between humor and extroversion.

Finally, he brought together 51 pairs of single, heterosexual college students for the last study. They didn’t know each other, but pairs of them sat alone in a room and talked for about 10 minutes. After the interaction, they filled out surveys.

The results indicated that the more times a man tried to be funny and the more times a woman laughed at his jokes, the more likely she was to see him as a potential romantic interest. Interestingly, women who attempted humor didn’t elicit the same response from men. But nonetheless, the more the pair laughed together, the more they were interested in each other romantically.

Although humor is often associated with intelligence, Hall found no link between the two traits. However, humor is extremely important in finding partners for different reasons, as Hall discovered.

His findings show that humor indicates having a sociable and agreeable personality, which are traits that seem to be generally popular when looking for a mate. Humor can also be a tool with which men can use to read if women are interested in them or not. "Men are trying to get women to show their cards," Hall said. "For some men [humor] is a conscious strategy.”

Hall also said that when men make jokes and women laugh at them, it may all be part of a script in the dating game. "The script is powerful and it is enduring, and it dictates everything from asking someone out to picking up the tab," he said.

So, good looks and suave lines might not be the best way to pick up the ladies. If you can make a girl laugh, you just might spark her interest more than any modern-day Romeo could dream of.

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