Original article:

Laughing at the looking glass: Does humor style serve as an interpersonal signal?

Evolutionary Psychology 11(1): 201-226 Virgil Zeigler-Hill, Department of Psychology, Oakland University, Rochester, MI, zeiglerh@oakland.eduAvi Besser, Department of Behavioral Sciences and Center for Research in Personality, Life Transitions, and Stressful Life Events, Sapir Academic College, D. N. Hof Ashkelon 79165, Israel, besser@mail.sapir.ac.ilStephanie E. Jett, Department of Psychology, University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg, MS


Objective: The provision of information appears to be an important feature of humor. The present studies examined whether humor serves as an interpersonal signal such that an individual's style of humor is associated with how the individual is perceived by others. Method: We examined this issue across two studies. In Study 1, undergraduate participants (257 targets) were rated more positively by their friends and family members (1194 perceivers) when they possessed more benign humor styles. In Study 2, 1190 community participants rated the romantic desirability of targets ostensibly possessing different humor styles. Results: Across both studies, our results were consistent with the possibility that humor serves as a signal. More specifically, individuals with benign humor styles (affiliative and self-enhancing humor styles) were evaluated more positively than those targets with injurious humor styles (aggressive and self-defeating humor styles). Conclusion: These findings are discussed in terms of the role that humor may play in interpersonal perception and relationships.


humor styles, personality, attraction, romantic

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Evolutionary Psychology - An open access peer-reviewed journal - ISSN 1474-7049 © Ian Pitchford and Robert M. Young; individual articles © the author(s)

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