Dissing oneself versus dissing rivals: Effects of status, personality, and sex on the short-term and long-term attractiveness of self-deprecating and other-deprecating humor

Gil Greengross, Geoffrey F. Miller

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Abstract

This study explores the adaptive functions and design features of self- and other-deprecating humor. Sixty-four female and 32 male college students participated in a two-part study. In the first part, we examined the relationships among participant demographics, personality traits, and preferences for producing different types of humor. Men report using more other-deprecating humor than women do, and the use of other-deprecating humor decreases with age for both sexes. In the second part of the study, each participant listened to tape recordings of opposite-sex people who were described as having different levels of status, and who produced different types of humor; then participants rated each person's attractiveness as a potential short-term and long-term mate. Humor type and presenter status had no effects on short-term attractiveness, but self-deprecating humor by high-status presenters (but not low-status presenters) increased long-term attractiveness for both sexes. These results are discussed in the light of sexual selection theory and costly signaling theory. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2008 APA, all rights reserved) (from the journal abstract)
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)393-408
Number of pages16
JournalEvolutionary Psychology
Volume6
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2008

Keywords

  • Mate preferences,
  • sex differences,
  • humor,
  • personality,
  • physical attractiveness

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