If there is anything approaching a universal when it comes to women’s taste in men, it’s that they almost always say they want a guy with a “sense of humor,” sometimes alternately phrased, “a guy who knows how to have fun.”
I just took four minutes and looked at the first few postings under “women seeking men” on craigslist in a random US city, and found the following requests:
make me cry from laughing.
I’m looking for a fun guy
most importantly someone who can keep up with me and make me laugh.
The kind of man I want to spend time with knows how to laugh and does it often. When he smiles, his eyes twinkle and people wonder what he’s been up to. [This one is my favorite –ed.]
3.Must be witty, sarcastic and fun
*Great sense of humor
Me: Killer karaoke singer
You: Witty conversationalist
looking for a guy who has a good sense of humour that can make me laugh
I could go on and on. Try it for yourself. It doesn’t matter the city. It also doesn’t matter what kind of relationship the women are looking for. Of the above women, some were young girls looking for drinks at a cocktail lounge, some were divorced women with children looking for a stable “$ecure” man, some were fat women looking for one night stands from chubby chasers, some claimed just to be looking for friendship. This is a nearly universal request from women.
Men, of course, love to laugh too. Laughing feels good. All else being equal, most men would choose a funny girl over a dull one. But it doesn’t carry nearly the same weight for men as it does for women. You certainly don’t find it in nearly 100% of our classified ads. So what’s going on?
A man who can make other people laugh is a social man. He’s confident, he’s interested in communicating with other people. He doesn’t pull into his own little shell, wallowing in self-pity. He’s happy. All these are strong indicators of alphaness. The women who posted these ads would never admit it, because they don’t even realize it themselves, but they want a man with a sense of humor because a man with a sense of humor is a man with superior sperm.
Daniel P. Howrigan, of the University of Colorado at Boulder, and Kevin B. MacDonald, of Cal State Long Beach, recently published a study called Humor as Mental Fitness Indicator. They ran an experiment involving hundreds of college students in which they were rated for humor and for intelligence (as well as a number of other factors like age, height, weight, and personality). Their findings? “The current study lends support to the prediction that effective humor production acts as an honest indicator of intelligence in humans.”
Translation: Funny = Smart.
While both genders value intelligence, it’s far more important to women than it is to men. Men will look past stupidity to a fantastic pair of legs. Women, not so much.
The researchers were most interested in the correlation between humor and intelligence (humor was measured by a panel of peers evaluating a number of “jokes” manufactured by participants through drawings, stories, and emails; intelligence was measured using a standardized test broadly accepted in the research community). But they also found some interesting correlations with other factors.
This is an incredibly rich table for students of human nature. Look at it closely:
OK, so those numbers are a little mystifying. Let me help you read it…
The numbers indicate the strength of correlation between the two factors. A rating of 1 would indicate that there was a 100%, exact one-to-one relationship between the two factors. For example, if the column heading was “Has a Penis” and the row was “Is a Man,” the the number in the box would be 1.00, assuming their were no transsexuals or Bobbitts in the group. A rating of 0 means there the two factors are operating independently of each other. A rating of -1 would mean that the two factors were diametrically opposed: the presence of one factor excludes the presence of the other (a column “Born in 1822” and a row “Alive Today” would have a -1 in the box). Got it?
The strongest relationship on this table is between Humor Production and General Intelligence: Funny = Smart. A .29 correlation might not seem like much, but in this kind of study it’s considered a rather strong piece of data. It’s exceedingly difficult to measure these things in a laboratory setting, and researchers generally expect the numbers to tend toward zero. So .29 is more than significant.
The biggest negative relationship is between Age and General Intelligence. In other words, Old = Stupid (also, if you notice, Old = Not Funny). Before you get your panties in a twist, remember that these are tendencies, not ironclad rules. Of course some people get smarter as they get older. Just like there are funny people who are kinda dumb. But people who continue to get sharper with age are the ones who were exceptionally bright as young people. Most people are terrible mediocrities… the natural vivaciousness and energy of youth — which can be used for good or evil, as we all know — gives way to alcohol, television, and soul-crushing conformity.
This also why, incidentally, a truly energetic, engaged, funny, and witty older man (“when he smiles, his eyes twinkle and people wonder what he’s been up to,” according to our lonely craigslisting woman) is pure catnip to pussies. They are nearly powerless to resist him. This man has the positive social indicators of age (more earning power, higher status) while keeping the positive genetic indicators of youth (a quick mind, a general sparkle in his eye, a sense of adventure).
But there’s more to learn from this table:
What are the personality factors that rate highly with humor? “Openness” and “Extraversion.” That seems unsurprising. People who are more engaged with the world are more likely to make witty observations about it: Worldly = Funny.
Note also that humor is negatively correlated with “Conscientiousness” and “Neuroticism.” That is, those who are locked up inside with their own issues (neurotics) and those who are too concerned with the feelings of others (the conscientious) can’t really cut loose and be funny: Being a Pussy = Not Funny. (Side note: There is not a strong negative relationship between being conscientious and being funny, just the lack of a correlation, the number is close to zero… in other words, being an asshole is not necessarily a sign of being funny, but neither is being a panty-waisted bitch.)
You can see something else from this table something that is widely known and very well-established in the scientific community, but which most people don’t know: Height and weight correlate strongly to intelligence. This is a real “Life is Unfair!” datum. But then, um… life is unfair. Height also correlates to beauty and physical attractiveness. Alert the hurt-feelings police! Unsurprising then, that Doctors Howrigan and MacDonald found that bigger, taller people are also funnier. Unspecified is whether it is their size that gives them more confidence and thus leads to humor, or if it is their better genes and better childhood nutrition that led to both big size and smart, funny brains. My guess is both, but there’s no data here to support that either way.
Finally, I’d like to point out one more thing: Note the relationship between “Semesters In College” and “Humor Production” and “General Intelligence.” It’s .06.
Zero point six. Point zero six. In other words, almost none at all. While education does a lot of things, making you good company is not one of them. If you’re trying to get in a woman’s pants, don’t spout some Derrida bullshit to prove your smarts, unless you are really good at making it funny and engaging and poetic, which, my friends, you probably aren’t.
So there you have it. Women, always sniffing out the best sperm for their vaginas, use a “sense of humor” as an indicator of your superior quality as a mate. They don’t know they do it. But the mechanism, bred into them by millions of years of evolution, works nonetheless.
Use this to your advantage.
Added: How do you use it to your advantage? There’s little to nothing you can do to increase your natural intelligence, though you can maximize whatever intelligence you do have by thinking for yourself and trying new things.
But if you’re just not funny, my biggest advice would be to lighten up. Look again at the correlations involving personality traits. Openness and Extraversion are good; Neuroticism and Conscientiousness, less so. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Open up to the world around you. Be happier. That much you can control.