The effects of relationship context and modality on ratings of funniness
Mary Louise Cowan and Anthony C. Little
There is evidence to suggest that humour is an important part of mate choice and that humour may serve as an indicator of genetic quality. The current study investigated how rated funniness from a video clip was related to an individual’s attractiveness as a short-term or long-term partner. We additionally tested for the presence of an attractiveness halo effect on humour ratings by comparing ratings of funniness from video clips, audio-only presentations, and photographs. We found that funniness was most strongly correlated with attractiveness for short-term relationships, especially in videos of males. We also found that attractiveness was related to funniness ratings differently across video, audio-only clips, and photographs. Relative to their rated funniness in the audio-only condition, with no appearance cues, attractive individuals were rated as funnier in video clips than less attractive individuals. An additional study demonstrated that ratings of flirtatiousness and funniness were strongly correlated. Perceived similarity between producing humour and flirting may explain why humour is more preferable in a short-term partner as flirting may be seen to signal proceptivity. The effects of attractiveness on humour judgement may also be explained by an association with flirtation as flirting may be most enjoyable when directed by attractive individuals.