It’s the way he tells them (and who is listening): men’s dominance is positively correlated with their preference for jokes told by dominant-sounding men

Mary Louise Cowan, Christopher D. Watkins, Paul J. Fraccaro, David R. Feinberg, Anthony C. Little

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5 Citations (Scopus)
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While much research has explored humorous exchange in relation to mate choice, recent perspectives have emphasized the importance of humor for monitoring interest within social partnerships more generally. Indeed, given that similarity is thought to be important in the maintenance of social partnerships, we may expect humor appreciation to vary according to the degree of similarity between humor producers and recipients. In the current study we report evidence for such variation that is specific to men’s judgments of other men’s humor. Here we manipulated voice pitch in a set of ‘one-liner’ jokes to create low-pitched and high-pitched versions of men and women telling jokes. A composite measure of men’s own dominance was positively correlated with their preference for jokes told by other men with lowered voice pitch (a vocal cue to dominance). A follow-up study demonstrated that self-reported dominance was positively related to men’s choice of low-pitch men as friends when judging humorous audio clips but not when judging neutral control audio clips, suggesting that humor may be important in mediating the effect of dominance on friendship choice. These studies indicate systematic variation in humor appreciation related to friendship choices which may function to promote cohesion within male partnerships based on status.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)97-104
Number of pages8
JournalEvolution and Human Behavior
Issue number2
Early online date10 Sep 2015
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2016


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