Thursday, July 06, 2006

The Psychology of Humor

It may start to sound like the same old he-said, she-said story, but gender differences in humor aren't as predictable as they might seem. In Bippus' study, for example, the men on average perceived more humor in the couples' conversations, but the women produced more humor, contradicting the stereotype that men are the funnier sex.

Nonetheless, a few themes emerge. Many women tend to use humor as a way of enhancing the relationship, says Martin, while men may use it to enhance their own persona. At a family dinner, for example, a woman may retell a story of a comic moment they all shared last Thanksgiving. A man might be more likely to treat the guests as his audience and play for laughs. Along these lines, Mary Crawford, a professor of psychology and women's studies at the University of Connecticut, found that men liked jokes and slapstick better than women, while women tended to find more humor in collaborative storytelling.

"Sometimes the way guys express closeness to other guys is through humor that puts people down. When they try to use the same kind of humor with the women in their lives, it doesn't come across the same way," says Markman.

Read the entire Psychology Today article on humor here.

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