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Pers Soc Psychol Bull. 2011 Jul;37(7):918-29. doi: 10.1177/0146167211405343. Epub 2011 Apr 26.

Humor in romantic contexts: do men participate and women evaluate?

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Department of Psychology, University of Western Ontario, London, ON, N6A 5C2, Canada.


Several lines of research illustrate that humor plays a pivotal role in relationship initiation. The current article applies sexual selection theory to argue that humor production is a fitness indicator, allowing men to transmit information tacitly about their underlying qualities. And whereas prior research has emphasized women's appreciation of humor as a signal of interest, the focus here is on how women evaluate prospective suitors' humorous offerings. Two studies, including an ecologically valid study of online dating advertisements, provided evidence for men's production and women's evaluation of humor in romantic contexts. A third study revealed that women's evaluations of potential mates' humor are predictive of their romantic interest. Moreover, this article shows that preferences for and perceptions of humor are associated with preferences for and perceptions of intelligence and warmth, consistent with the argument that one function of humor is as a fitness indicator that provides information about underlying mate quality.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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