The effects of relationship context and modality on ratings of funniness.

The effects of relationship context and modality on ratings of funniness.

Gervias and Wilson (2005) suggested that humor had no correlation whatsoever with survival, even though it was an unavoidable aspect of human speech. As much as this aspect of speech was shown by Yip and Martin (2006) to foster social bonds, they also demonstrated how humor could be used destructively as a tool to assert oneself in the social circles. According to the Mating Mind theory, there might be a relationship between humor and genetics in that the former dictates the quality of the later, with regard to finding a life mate. This coupled with the fact that the style of humor employed depends on its intended social use, means it has crucial effects on the courting parties’ perception of each other.

There might however be a conflicting assertion to the above theories, if Dion, Berschield and Walsters’ theory of ‘what is beautiful is good’ is anything to go by. Their school of thought was that our perceived funniness relied on physical attractiveness. The same was echoed by Bressler and Breshine (2006) in their study of questionnaires aimed at proving the relationship between intellectual capabilities and humor with regard to finding a mate. They showed how potential mates were identified not because they simply were funny. But because due to the need for above average intelligence in portraying good humor, these potential mates could be said to be intelligent as well as creative, hence were desirable mates.

So far, the relationship between humor and finding a mate has been shown to be subject to physical and mental factors. However, Bale, Morrison and Caryl (2006) introduce a sexual connotation to the whole mix by suggesting that males prefer females to be recipients of humor rather than producers. Bressler et al (2006) echoed the same with his findings that concluded feminine appreciation of male humor. This shows a distinct sexual bias for male and against females in the use of humor to find potential mates.


The paper tries to examine the effects of humor on the choice of both a long-term and short-term mate and/or life partner. In addition, it also tries to investigate the effects different forms of humorous stimuli have on people with regard to their being either interested in serious need of a mate, or those just flirting or looking for something purely platonic. According to Cowan and Little (2013) , “our research furthers our understanding of why humor may still be used by females in the context of relationship initiation” (p 500).

The importance of having a clear understanding of the effects of humor on relationships, their initiation and sustenance should not be underestimated. Humor has a very significant impact on the whole notion of life, in which relationships, be they life-long or platonic are crucial, as demonstrated by Geher and Barry (2013), where “humor adds to the mating intelligence arsenal of those who are not much to look at, or for other reasons (eg, job, income), are lower in the social status” (p 31). The implication of all this are many. One, a better understanding of why some women are attracted to humorous men due to their perceived intelligence and creativity, as opposed to others who shun them on the notion of their humor portraying a inner lack of seriousness, could better serve relationship counseling experts. In addition, this research sets a precursor to further investigation into the effects of the same variables and stimuli on homosexual relationship initiation. Generally, Cowan and Little were pushing for a better understanding and appreciation of the effects of humor on boosting the longevity of relationships. Their research also set to erode the stereotypical mindset that humor and its presence or absence would influence relationship in a manner that is always positive. They showed how some women perceive humorous men as jokers, which is partly true.

Both authors used data collection and analysis to support their argument. Data was collected using a variety of methods, which included; the use of questionnaires, voice recordings and videos. Analysis of the collected data was undertaken using several methods too, with a pronounced bias towards statistical analysis. In the initial study, data collected was subjected to Kolmogorov-Smirnov tests in order to determine any significant deviation from a normal distribution. The results having been satisfactory, an analysis of the effect of physical attractiveness on funniness ratings was carried out. This process relied on collected ratings from one of the sources of raw data, a photograph. An ANOVA (analysis of variance) of this showed that the ratings of funniness based on physical attractiveness did not vary for the photo, video or voice recording. This however led to further analysis to determine whether this ratings of funniness influenced physical attractiveness from either a short-time or long-term perspective. It showed that funniness was attractive among men for both short-term and long-term relationships.

This paper conclusively confirms a long standing fact that females prefer a humorous male for either short term or long-term relationships. With an emphasis on the later, a careful inquest into the existing theories about humor’s effect on initiation, sustenance and longevity of relationships could go a long way into fostering relationships which have a better chance at survival. In addition, the halo effect was investigated and its effects on humor established, as well as the ramifications of all this on sex looked into.

Maybe this study could provide better insights into the mechanics of sex change, due to the decrease in emotional and creative intelligence with respect humor. Do the increasing numbers of ladies and men undergoing sex-change therapy feel ‘misplaced?’ Maybe ladies find men less attractive due to their reliance on electronic forms of entertainment, which in turn form the source of most of their humor, hence ladies feel the need to take up their roles Do men feel inadequate in an area that forms perhaps a large part of their relationship arsenal? So much that, they feel better off as ladies? All these questions could be answered with subsequent studies, like Cowan and Little into humor’s effect on relationships, love, sex and attraction. The results of these subsequent studies would go a long way into bettering our understanding of the role humor plays in life generally and not only love attraction, flirtation or infatuation.

I strongly feel that good humor goes a long way in boosting the chances of a man establishing and maintaining a relationship with a lady. In my own experience, ‘funny’ guys are better placed to score with ladies, than reserved and ‘boring’ ones. In any case, most ladies prefer an interactive gentleman as company at least, and what better way to keep it interesting than good old humor? References.

Geher, G., Kauffman, S. B (2013). Mating intelligence: The role of mind in sex dating and love. Oxford University Press.

Bale, C. , Morrison, R. , & Caryl, P. G. (2006). Chat up lines as male sexual displays. Personality and Individual Differences, 40, 655-664.

Bressler, E. R., Martin, R. A., & Balshine, S. (2006). Production and appreciation of humor as sexually selected traits: Evolution and Human Behaviour, 27, 121-130.