Q: How can I use humor more effectively in dating? Are there certain types of humor to avoid if I’m trying to get someone to like me?
A: There is scientific evidence that all types of humor will increase your attractiveness to women. However, some types of humor are more attractive than others.
- A study was published in 2016 in Europe’s Journal of Psychology examining the types of humor used in courtship between men and women.
- We don’t need a scientific article to prove that women like men with a good sense of humor. It’s one of the most commonly-desired traits in men.
- However, there are many different kinds of humor, and many different motives for courtship.
- Some researchers were curious whether different types of humor were more effective to attract women, and what the different types of humor say about motives for courtship.
- In particular, there is negative humor (e.g., sarcasm, self-disparaging jokes, being flippant), and there is positive humor (e.g., wittiness, puns, optimistic humor). The researchers suggested that the type of humor that men use may indicate their personality traits.
- Also, men can have different motives for courtship. Some men are interested in short-term flings, while some are interested in long-term relationships.
- The researchers suggested that men use positive humor when searching for a long-term relationship, because positive humor indicates traits that are valuable in long-term partners (optimism, good mood, etc.). Conversely, they suggested that men use darker, negative humor when searching for a short-term relationship, for the same reason (negative humor may indicate intelligence but not the traits necessary for long-term relationships).
- But is their hypothesis true? And furthermore, which kind of humor is more attractive to women generally?
The researchers got a group of 149 undergraduate students and 175 online survey-takers to participate in this study.
On average, the participants were 27 years old, the majority were white (with some minorities), with some college experience.
ALL participants were single (no current relationship) and identified as heterosexual.
Each participant was asked to imagine a detailed scenario where they have the opportunity to engage in either a short-term or long-term relationship with an opposite-sex individual.
The scenario was borrowed from previous research, where it was successfully used to get people to think about how they behave in dating scenarios.
When participants were in that mindset, they were then asked to think about the types of behaviors they would engage in if they were trying to pursue that relationship. These included two types of humor: positive and negative humor.
Negative humor includes:
- Self-deprecating humor
- Aggressive humor (teasing)
- Positive humor includes:
- “Affiliative” humor (wittiness)
- Self-enhancing humor (looking for positives in a situation to make self or others feel better)
Then, participants were asked to imagine the target of their advances engaging in one of 8 humorous behaviors, each representing a type of humor.
Did participant gender alter the type of humor they used?
- Nope. Both men and women said they’d use humor, and all types of humor, to try to woo their imagined date.
Did the MOTIVE (short-term vs. long-term dating interest) change the type of humor a person would use?
- YES. In general, people said they’d use more positive humor.
- Additionally, people who were told to imagine a short-term dating interest said they’d use more negative humor than those seeking a long-term dating interest.
Did the TYPE of humor affect the attractiveness of the imagined dating interest?
- YES. Positive humor made the potential dating interest much more attractive to women than negative humor. Negative humor did increase attractiveness a little, but positive was far more attractive.
- For women imagining a short-term dating interest, negative humor was more attractive than for women imagining a long-term dating interest. However, in both scenarios, positive humor was much more attractive.
What’s the take away from this study?
- Positive humor seems to go a lot longer than negative humor.
- Negative humor does increase attractiveness a little. And it is slightly more attractive for people seeking a short-term rather than a long-term relationship.
- However, positive humor is more attractive overall for women no matter what.
So what kinds of humor should I use to attract a woman?
- First of all, any kind of humor increases attractiveness.
- However, some kinds are more effective than others. In particular, wit, optimism, making light of a bad situation, and trying to lighten the mood are seen as attractive types of humor.
- Teasing, aggressive humor, and self-deprecating humor do boost attractiveness a little, particularly when the woman is interested in a short-term relationship (vs. a long-term commitment). However, these types of humor are not as attractive as positive humor. When in doubt, go for the latter.
DiDonato, T. E., & Jakubiak, B. K. (2016). Strategically funny: Romantic motives affect humor style in relationship initiation. Europe’s Journal of Psychology, 12(2), 390-405. Link: https://ejop.psychopen.eu/article/view/1105