Who’s funny: Gender stereotypes, humor production, and memory bias
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.
- Bayen, U. J., Nakamura, G. V., Dupuis, S. E., & Yang, C.-L. (2000). The use of schematic knowledge about sources in source monitoring. Memory & Cognition, 28, 480–500. doi:10.3758/BF03198562 CrossRef
- Bressler, E. R., Martin, R. A., & Balshine, S. (2006). Production and appreciation of humor as sexually selected traits. Evolution and Human Behavior, 27, 121–130. doi:10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2005.09.001 CrossRef
- Coser, R. L. (1960). Laughter among colleagues: A study of the social functions of humor among the staff of a mental hospital. Psychiatry, 23, 81–95.
- Greer, G. (2009). Beaten to the punchline. The Guardian. Retrieved from www.guardian.co.uk/stage/2009/mar/02/germaine-greer-comedy-women
- Hicks, J. L., & Cockman, D. W. (2003). The effect of general knowledge on source memory and decision processes. Journal of Memory and Language, 48, 489–501. doi:10.1016/S0749-596X(02)00537-5 CrossRef
- Hitchens, C. (2007). Why women aren’t funny. Vanity Fair, p. 54. Retrieved from www.vanityfair.com/culture/features/2007/01/hitchens200701
- Kaplan, R. M., & Pascoe, G. C. (1977). Humorous lectures and humorous examples: Some effects upon comprehension and retention. Journal of Educational Psychology, 69, 61–65. doi:10.1037/0022-06184.108.40.206 CrossRef
- Kothoff, H. (2006). Gender and humor: The state of the art. Journal of Pragmatics, 38, 4–25. CrossRef
- Lewis, J. (2000, June 8). Aspen’s U.S. Comedy Arts Festival. Aspen, CO.
- Li, N. P., Griskevicius, V., Durante, K. M., Jonason, P. K., Pasisz, D. J., & Aumer, K. (2009). An evolutionary perspective on humor: Sexual selection or interest indication? Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 35, 923–936. doi:10.1177/0146167209334786 CrossRef
- Long, D. L., & Graesser, A. C. (1988). Wit and humor in discourse processing. Discourse Processes, 11, 35–60. doi:10.1080/01638538809544690 CrossRef
- Macmillan, N. A., & Creelman, C. D. (2005). Detection theory: A user’s guide (2nd ed.). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
- Marsh, R. L., Cook, G. I., & Hicks, J. L. (2006). Gender and orientation stereotypes bias source-monitoring attributions. Memory, 14, 148–160. doi:10.1080/09658210544000015 CrossRef
- Mather, M., Johnson, M. K., & De Leonardis, D. M. (1999). Stereotype reliance in source monitoring: Age differences and neuropsychological test correlates. Cognitive Neuropsychology, 16, 437–458. doi:10.1080/026432999380870 CrossRef
- McGraw, A. P., & Warren, C. (2010). Benign violations: Making immoral behavior funny. Psychological Science, 21, 1141–1149. doi:10.1177/0956797610376073 CrossRef
- Miller, G. F. (2000). The mating mind: How sexual choice shaped the evolution of human nature. New York: Random House.
- Murnane, K., & Bayen, U. J. (1996). An evaluation of empirical measures of source identification. Memory & Cognition, 24, 417–428. doi:10.3758/BF03200931 CrossRef
- Provine, R. R. (2000). Laughter: A scientific investigation. New York: Viking.
- Robinson, D. T., & Smith-Lovin, L. (2001). Getting a laugh: Gender, status, and humor in task discussions. Social Forces, 80, 123–158. CrossRef
- Schmidt, S. R. (1994). Effects of humor on sentence memory. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 20, 953–967. doi:10.1037/0278-73220.127.116.113 CrossRef
- Schmidt, S. R. (2002). The humour effect: Differential processing and privileged retrieval. Memory, 10, 127–138. doi:10.1080/09658210143000263 CrossRef
- Schmidt, S. R., & Williams, A. R. (2001). Memory for humorous cartoons. Memory & Cognition, 29, 305–311. doi:10.3758/BF03194924 CrossRef
- Takahashi, M., & Inoue, T. (2009). The effects of humor on memory for non-sensical pictures. Acta Psychologica, 132, 80–84. doi:10.1016/j.actpsy.2009.06.001 CrossRef
- Who’s funny: Gender stereotypes, humor production, and memory bias
Psychonomic Bulletin & Review
Volume 19, Issue 1 , pp 108-112
- Cover Date
- Print ISSN
- Online ISSN
- Additional Links
- Humor effect
- Source memory
- Industry Sectors