Male Production of Humor Produced by Sexually Selected Psychological Adaptations

  • Gil GreengrossEmail author
Part of the Evolutionary Psychology book series (EVOLPSYCH)


Humor is a universal social phenomena enjoyed daily by individuals in every culture in the world. There is little doubt that evolutionary forces played an important role in shaping humor, but the nature of humor adaptation is still debated. Sexual selection theory is presumed to play a central role in the evolution of humor, and growing evidence supports this view. Humor plays an important role in mate choice, and because of the asymmetry in reproduction costs for males and females, humor production and appreciation should be sexually dimorphic. Predictions based on sexual selection theory are largely met. Data show that humor production ability is more important for women when selecting a mate, while men want a woman that will appreciate and laugh at their humor. Studies on conversational humor and personal dating ads show that men try to advertise their humor creativity, while women evaluate men’s humor. Men also tend to initiate more humor, especially when other women are around, while women smile and laugh more overall and particularly when men are present. In addition, studies show that men are better, on average, than women at producing high-quality spontaneous humor and are generally more motivated to present their humor production ability. Producing a great sense of humor translates into mating success, and men are more likely to benefit from such high-quality humor ability. Humor production is also correlated with intelligence, especially verbal intelligence, and is partially heritable, lending support that humor serves as a mental fitness indicator.


Mating Success Mate Quality Verbal Intelligence Humorous Partner Sexual Selection Theory 
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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of New MexicoAlbuquerqueUSA

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