Presentation on theme: "The Dating Game: The Importance of Female Laughter as a Receptivity Signal ANTHONY R. GAROVE & SALLY D. FARLEY."— Presentation transcript:
The Dating Game: The Importance of Female Laughter as a Receptivity Signal ANTHONY R. GAROVE & SALLY D. FARLEY
Humor and Sexual Selection Miller (2000) argued that humor evolved as a sexually selected trait in males because humor production served as a mental fitness indicator, or rather, a means to display intelligence to potential mates General intelligence is significantly correlated with independent ratings of humor production skill, which in turn, is predictive of reproductive success (Greengross & Miller, 2011; Howrigan & MacDonald, 2008) Women find humorous men more physically attractive (McGee & Shevlin, 2009) and desirable, whereas men find women more desirable when they are receptive to their humor (Bressler, Martin, & Balshine, 2006; Wilbur & Campbell, 2011).
Laughter: A Receptivity Signal? Although theoretical accounts of laughter capture its social nature, there is disagreement about the adaptive function of laughter. Some theoretical formulations have converged on the importance of laughter as a sexual receptivity or courtship signal, particularly in women (Bressler, Martin, & Balshine, 2006; Mehu & Dunbar, 2008) Li et al. (2009) manipulated male humor attempts and female responses in an experimental study that used “pseudo speed- dating videos” Participants inferred that men were more romantically interested when they initiated humor attempts, and that women were more romantically interested when they had positive responses, which included laughter.
Hypotheses: H1: Two males competing for the same potential partner will increase humor production if their rival attempts humor, successfully or unsuccessfully. H2: Perceptions of rival intelligence should be higher when rivals attempt humor. H3: Perceptions of female receptivity (likelihood of obtaining a date, perceived female receptiveness, and confederate’s perception of male rival’s intelligence) should be highest when a potential partner laughs in response to a male’s attempt at humor.
Design and Procedure Male participants were randomly assigned to one of four conditions in a 2 (message humor: present or absent) x 2 (confederate laughter: present or absent) between subjects design. Participants watched a short video displaying an attractive female confederate reading a script presented as a message she received from a man from an online dating service. Content of the script was identical with the exception of the addition of five humor attempts in the humor conditions. Confederate laughed immediately after the humor attempts in the humor conditions, or laughed at exactly the same point at which humor attempts were omitted in the control conditions.
Results: Did humorous messages elicit competitive humor production in male participants? Consistent with H1, after being exposed to humor attempts by a male competitor, participants generated more humor attempts in comparison to the control group. F(1, 101) = 17.38, p <.001
Results: Did participants infer greater intelligence from humorous displays? Although the main effect of humor was not significant, the laughter x humor interaction was significant [F(1, 156) = 5.69, p =.02] This finding suggests that competitor intelligence is inferred both by male humor attempts and female receptivity to them (as gauged by laughter).
Results: Do humor production skill and laughter interact to communicate female receptivity? The humor x laughter interaction was significant [F(1, 157) = 17.58, p <.001] When the message was humorous, participants rated the confederate as significantly more receptive when she was laughing than when she was not laughing [F(1, 91) = 34.93, p <.001] The main effect for laughter was also significant [F(1, 157) = 11.44, p =.001], with higher receptivity ratings when she was laughing than when she was not.
Discussion Our findings strongly support Miller’s (200) sexual selection theory of humor. Few studies incorporate both laughter and humor together (See exceptions: Li et al., 2009; Wilbur & Campbell, 2011), the value of which is made clear by the interaction between these variables in this study. The driving force behind humor production, specifically for males, seems to be competitive pressures, not attraction to a possible partner or mate. Male’s gauge their competing conspecifics’ mental fitness not solely on humor production, but rather, the combination of humor and the laughter from the target mate. Likewise, laughter alone is not indicative of perceived male intelligence to other males; instead it may function as an interest indicator of female receptivity. In the context of mate acquisition, humor production and laughter may have co- evolved as a call and response mechanism, whereby the presence of both humor and laughter produces a harmonious sound indicative of mutual interest.
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