In the age-old debate of whether men or women are funnier, the answer could lie in evolution.
Augusta State University psychology professor Richard Topolski and four students conducted a study to determine the funnier gender – men won.
The group surveyed 136 participants and asked them to list the seven funniest people they know personally, celebrities and professional comedians excluded. Participants of both genders listed men more often than women, while 30 percent of women put their significant other in the top three.
For men, only 10 percent listed their female significant other at the top of the list.
The result didn’t surprise Topolski, whose study points out that research has shown humor is an evolutionary trait involved in sexual selection, which leads to genetic adaptation.
It’s like male birds using a song or gaudy feathers to attract females.
“When you ask women what they look for in a partner, they say ‘someone who will make me laugh,’ ” Topolski explained. “When you ask men, they say ‘I want someone who will laugh at my dumb jokes.’ ”
Topolski is preparing to submit the research for publication and hopes to expand the study worldwide to test the theory across cultures.
Along with the gender study, Topolski and his students also looked into rational and emotional reasoning by asking participants if they would save a beloved pet over a human.
Given a scenario of a fast moving bus heading towards them, 45 percent of the 573 participants said they would save their pet over a foreign tourist.
Those who chose their pets rationalized their decisions by saying pets are family or used moral scapegoating by saying “I would be so focused on my pet I wouldn’t see the tourist,” according to the study.
The loyalty to the pet gradually decreased when asked to choose between the pet and a hometown stranger, distant cousin, best friend, grandparent and sibling. Only about 1 percent said they would save a pet over a sibling or a grandparent, which often coincided with a family conflict.
Topolski said the purpose of the study is to understand more about the human condition and what processes are involved in decision making.
“So much for the old adage of a dog is a man’s best friend,” Topolski said.