Liana S. E. Hone, William Hurwitz, Debra Lieberman; (2015)
Evolutionary-minded scientists have proposed that humor is a sexually selected trait in men that signals mate quality. Indeed, women tend to prefer men who make them laugh and men tend to prefer women who laugh at their jokes. However, it is unclear how robust this pattern is. Here we report a replication of one of the first studies (Bressler, Martin, and Balshine, 2006) to examine the sex differences in preferences for humor receptivity versus humor production. We replicate Bressler et al.’s (2006) findings that men prefer women who are receptive to their humor whereas women prefer men who produce humor. These findings held even after we modified Bressler et al.’s questionnaire for better conceptual validity. Furthermore, using a separate measure designed to assess trade-offs, we found that men viewed humor receptivity as a necessity and humor production as a luxury when they were asked to create an ideal long-term partner. For women, it was just the opposite. These results bolster the claim that sexual selection has shaped sex differences regarding preferences for a prospective mate’s sense of humor and that what one means by “sense of humor” can vary.