Being funny is a sign of a higher IQ, research finds.
Funny people have higher levels of general and verbal intelligence.
Not only that, but being funny is also linked to having more dating success.
Both men and women are more attracted to a person who is funnier.
However, women are more discerning about humour and react to it more strongly.
Men, meanwhile, tend to be focused on producing jokes (often to impress women).
The study’s authors write:
“Humor is not just a reliable intelligence-indicator; it may be one of the most important traits for humans seeking mates.
Of course, mate attraction is not the only function of humor.
Humor can also be used in competing for status with same-sex rivals, reducing social tensions, and other adaptive functions.”
The study involved 400 young people who were given intelligence tests and asked about their dating history.
They were then handed New Yorker cartoons with the caption deleted and asked to come up with their own.
The results showed that, unsurprisingly, verbal intelligence was strongly related to being funny.
However, people found it hard to come up with anything really good, with most captions rated as not funny at all.
This shows how difficult jokes are — especially in the medium of New Yorker captions.
Other studies, though, have also found links between intelligence and humour.
In this study, men were especially focused on trying to write funny captions and theirs were rated more highly, the authors write:
“Men were funnier than women on average and produced a larger number of captions, consistent with the sexual signaling hypothesis in which men try (unconsciously) to signal their mate quality through their humor ability, and women are more responsive to and discriminating about humor.”
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2013) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study was published in the journal Intelligence (Greengross & Miller, 2011).