Are men funnier than women? Cartoon test tells answer

Angry people are quick to take offense. Comments that others might laugh off can get under the skin of someone who has an angry disposition. Some people with an anger "problem" are hyper vigilant, always waiting for others to screw up. istockphoto

blame game, adhd, marriage problems, generic, stock
istockphoto

(CBS) Christopher Hitchens caught some flak for his 2007 Vanity Fair article Why Women Aren't Funny.

But who's laughing now?

In a study that provides some cover for the famously outspoken essayist - and which is sure to trigger serious debate at the dinner table and in the bedroom - psychologists have proven that guys are funnier than gals.

But just by a smidge.

For the study, researchers at the University of California at San Diego asked 16 male and 16 female college students to try their hand at writing funny captions for a blank New Yorker cartoon. Then 34 male and 47 female students ranked the captions without knowing the gender of the writers.

What was the result? On average, guys scored 0.11 point higher than the gals on a 0-5 scale.

"The differences we find between men's and women's ability to be funny are so small that they can't account of the strength of the belief in the stereotype," study co-author Laura Mickes, a postdoctoral research in the university's psychology department, said in a written statement.

The study - published in Psychosomatic Bulletin & Review - showed that men seem to enjoy the humor of other men more than women do. Female raters allocated an average of 0.6 point more to male writers while male raters allocated male writers' captions 0.16 point higher.

"Sad for the guys who think that by being funny they will impress the ladies, but really just impress other men who want to impress the ladies," study co-author Nicholas Christenfeld, a professor of psychology at the university, said in the statement.

What explains the difference between men's and women's ability to make others laugh? The study wasn't looking for an answer to that question, but Dr. Mickes is looking for one now.

"We are conducting follow-up experiments in which we are measuring more aspects of why men do appear to have some humor advantage," she told ABC News. "For example, do they try harder, more often, in more contexts?"

What do you think? Are men funnier? Why or why not?

  • David W Freeman

Comments