If love is blind, then maybe humour is the attention-grabber. That’s the conclusion of two recent studies that confirm a long-standing stereotype of flirting: that women like joky men, while men like women who laugh at their jokes. Eric Bressler of Westfield State College, Massachusetts, and colleague Sigal Balshine of McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, asked more than 200 male and female college students to examine photos of members of the opposite sex. Some had funny quotes pinned beneath them, such as: “My high school was so rough we had our own coroner.” Others had bland ones: “I’d rather walk to school than take the bus.”
Women ranked the humorous men as better potential partners, the researchers found – and as more friendly, fun and popular. Men’s view of a woman, on the other hand, appeared to be uninfluenced by her wit. Bressler suspected that men and women do, in fact, both value a sense of humour in a mate, but that they might be looking for slightly different things: women valuing an ability to be funny and men valuing an ability to see the joke.