Are Funny People More Sexually Attractive?

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Everybody has a sense of humor, or at least everybody thinks they have one. It seems to be a universal characteristic, like liking music. And yet, we don’t really understand humor. We don’t really know what makes something or someone funny or even what function humor may have.

To be honest, few things are as unfunny as scientists’ attempts to intellectualize humor and analyze its components empirically. In any case, a number of different theories have been put forward. It is said, for instance, that humor results when we simultaneously detect that a norm has been breached and that the breach is benign. Humor may also help with social cohesiveness, and, of course, it may perhaps help when we are trying to attract a sexual or romantic partner.

Humor and sexual attraction

There is one aspect of humor that has been traditionally believed to be very useful: being funny as a sexually attractive characteristic. We have always held the view that funny people (and perhaps more specifically funny men) are more attractive to partners, compensating with their humor for any possible deficits in other areas, like a lack of physical attractiveness, for instance. The names of certain comic actors and comedians with extremely busy romantic lives come to mind. Humor is commonly regarded as an indicator of intelligence and creativity, which are desirable characteristics.

In fact, research so far has agreed with this intuitive assumption and found that there is indeed an association between humor and attractiveness, together with a number of possible evolutionary explanations for this association. But a recent study carried out at the University of Queensland contradicts this belief. The authors analyzed results from 3-minute speed-dates with hundreds of heterosexual participants and found that eliciting laughs didn’t help attract a partner after all.

I wonder if such a short encounter would actually be sensitive enough to pick up reliably whether the potential partner is really funny or not, and whether the slightly nervous laughs in the initial minutes of an encounter have much to do with humor. Perhaps it is the ability to face events humorously or to use irony and self-deprecation, rather then cracking jokes, that we value in our companion.

Sexual attraction is multi-factorial and mysterious.

Even if the role of humor is disputed, it is clear that sexual attraction is not simply the result of one single crucial component that will determine success or failure, and even if we added up together humor, physical attractiveness, vigor, intelligence, and ability to provide, we would still be missing all the other subtle ingredients, the magic dust, that makes a particular person attractive to another.

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