Brief Report

Psychonomic Bulletin & Review

, Volume 19, Issue 1, pp 108-112

First online:

Who’s funny: Gender stereotypes, humor production, and memory bias

  • Laura MickesAffiliated withUniversity of California, San Diego Email author 
  • , Drew E. WalkerAffiliated withUniversity of California, San Diego
  • , Julian L. ParrisAffiliated withUniversity of California, San Diego
  • , Robert MankoffAffiliated withThe New Yorker
  • , Nicholas J. S. ChristenfeldAffiliated withUniversity of California, San Diego


It has often been asserted, by both men and women, that men are funnier. We explored two possible explanations for such a view, first testing whether men, when instructed to be as funny as possible, write funnier cartoon captions than do women, and second examining whether there is a tendency to falsely remember funny things as having been produced by men. A total of 32 participants, half from each gender, wrote captions for 20 cartoons. Raters then indicated the humor success of these captions. Raters of both genders found the captions written by males funnier, though this preference was significantly stronger among the male raters. In the second experiment, male and female participants were presented with the funniest and least funny captions from the first experiment, along with the caption author’s gender. On a memory test, both females and males disproportionately misattributed the humorous captions to males and the nonhumorous captions to females. Men might think men are funnier because they actually find them so, but though women rated the captions written by males slightly higher, our data suggest that they may regard men as funnier more because they falsely attribute funny things to them.


Humor effect Humor Stereotype Gender Source memory