Step aside ladies

News & Politics

When it comes to humor, according a recent McMaster University study, men and women are on different sides of the joke.


Regular PEEK readers know that I've got a congenital skepticism when it comes to scientific studies -- uncongenially congenital when it comes to social science. So BAM, there's my bias.

The study confirms what Vogue and Elle readers have known for centuries. Namely, that when it comes to getting amorous, men prefer to make women laugh and women prefer men who make them laugh. The interesting part is how they arrived at that conclusion.

More interesting than the fact that "men prefer women who..." etc. is the fact that men's and women's views on what actually comprises humor are different (we'll skip the disclaimer that this is a snapshot of a culture taken by a constituent of that culture and should not be taken as inferring anything biological...).

The good doctor put it this way: "Even though being around funny people and having them appreciate your own humor are both rewarding experiences, women will ultimately prefer humor producers as relationship partners, while men will prefer appreciators of their own humor."

Turns out that it's not just that women prefer men who make them laugh, but that women actually understand "good sense of humor" as being the quality of someone who makes them laugh. Similarly, men understand a "good sense of humor" as the quality of someone having the good taste to laugh at their jokes.

Or is prefer and understand the same thing here? You begin to see the problems with studies like these.

Charles Star, quoting from a pay-blocked article, takes it a step further, reporting that "men find a sense of humor in women a huge turnoff." Unfortunately, it's unclear where that conclusion comes from.

Rant: Another study that re-affirms our cultural prejudices? Meaning: men are active, women are passive. Men are producers, women consumers -- whether it's products or productions it's the same story. I'm not saying that social scientists need to be activists with an agenda, but it's difficult to make out just what the value of research like this really is.

There is, according to the researchers, "a growing awareness that we need to know more about why various personality traits are attractive." We do? Who's to say that that even exists? Rant over. Your turn... comments please. (StayFree!)

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