Funny Results: Men Get More Laughs Than Women

Oct 21, 2011 9:45am

The Tina Feys, Amy Poehlers and Kristen Wiigs of the world are getting a hearty laugh from this new study.

The research, published in the journal Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, found that men are funnier than women. But before men get too comfortable in their winning role, the margin between the more and less funny genders was small.

“There is some shred of truth to the received wisdom about men being funnier, but it does not come close to explaining how much funnier they think they are,” said study author, Laura Mickes, a postdoctoral researcher in the UC San Diego department of psychology. “The stereotype that males are funnier than females has always puzzled me, because in my experience, and my intuition was that, we are equally funny.  I know I am.”

“Even more surprising, though, is that it was pretty much just other males who found males funnier,” said Mickes.

During the first phase of the study, male and female student participants were told to fill out blank New Yorker cartoons and create several captions as funny as possible.

Thirty-four men and 47 women were then instructed to rate the funnier of two random captions matched together in a tournament-style rating system.

Captions were then scored on a 5-point system based on how far they got in the tournament. True, men did better, but not by much.  They received an average of .11 more points more than the female writers. But, when broken down even further, women gave an average of .06 points more to male writers, but men gave .16 more points to the male writers.

Authors noted that men used vulgarity and sexual humor slightly more than their female counterparts.

But, here’s the annoying part, ladies: In the second phase of the study, the unfunny cartoons were more misattributed to women and the funny captions were more often mistaken as being written by men.

“I think the results do suggest that our thinking that men are much funnier makes us remember them as having been funnier,” said Mickes. “Lots of stereotypes can work that way. We are conducting follow up experiments in which we are measuring more aspects of why men do appear to have some humor advantage. For example, do they try harder, more often, in more contexts?”

 

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