In news that’s bound to enrage female comedians around the world, a new study claims that men are funnier than women.
Researchers from Aberystwyth University and the University of North Carolina have reviewed studies worldwide looking at sex difference in humour ability, and it seems that men come out on top on average.
Dr Gil Greengross, co-author of the study, said: “Humour is a complex phenomenon that involves social, emotional, physiological, cognitive, cultural and evolutionary influences, to name a few. One important aspect is the ability to make others laugh.
“Humour production ability is a distinct cognitive ability that is largely uncorrelated with appreciation and enjoyment of humour.
“When looking at who is the funnier sex, we focus then on humour production ability.”
In their review, the researchers focused on studies where men’s and women’s humour ability was evaluated objectively.
For example, a study was included in which participants were asked to write a funny caption for a cartoon. These captions were then assessed by judges who didn’t know the sex of the author.
The review revealed that the combined studies found that 63% of men score above women in humour ability.
Sadly, while the researchers also looked at other variables including age and country, none of these appeared to make a difference to the findings.
Dr Greengross added: “This means that to the best of our knowledge, on average, men appear to have higher humour production ability than women. That said, the fact that men, on average, appear to be funnier than women, does not imply that every single man is funnier than every single woman.
“Why would men have higher humour ability than women on average? It is possible that the view that women are less funny is so pervasive that societal forces discourage girls and women from developing and expressing their humour, making a woman less likely to be perceived as funny. There is, however, minimal evidence to support the view that our society suppresses women from producing and exhibiting humour.
“On the other hand, the evidence does suggest that humour plays a major role in mating, with a strong evolutionary basis. Humour is strongly correlated with intelligence, which explains why women value men with a great sense of humour, as intelligence was crucial for survival throughout our evolutionary history when we mostly lived in hunter-gatherer groups.”
“Men, on the other hand, prefer women who laugh at their humour. That means that over our evolutionary history, men likely had to compete harder with other men to impress women with their sense of humour.
"Plenty of evidence supports this view, showing how important it is for women to find a man with a great sense of humour, while men generally do not place a high value on women's humour production ability.”