Men are Funnier

October 19, 2011

Brit Trogen


A recent study making use The New Yorker's caption contest has attempted to address the age-old stereotype of comedy between the sexes. And by just a hair, the males have it. Men edged out women in the study when judged for who could write funnier captions, but not by much. Out of a perfect score of 5, the men-folk earned an average of 0.11 more points than female writers.


Which raises the ever-present question: why? Several theories exist regarding the biological use of humour, including that men may use it as a sexual attractant to impress potential mates. But according to the data from this study, women are only barely impressed by the humour attempts of men. Female raters gave men only an average 0.06 more points compared to their female counterparts, whereas male raters tipped the scales more, with 0.16. So are funny men really impressing females... or only other men?


Nicholas Christenfeld, a coauthor on the study, has a different theory: men simply try harder. The real New Yorker contest, over one span of 32 captions, had 22 male winners and 10 female. But the winning males had entered the contest an average of 70.22 times, whereas the females only 6.4 times, on average. In other words, the men are try-hards, but it works.


Whatever the reason, over 90% of participants in the study believed men to be funnier, and regardless of the outcome of this study that stereotype isn't likely to go anywhere. So ladies, take advantage of the odds stacked against you (there's nothing like the element of surprise), or just sit back and enjoy the show. 



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