When you find someone attractive, doesn’t it seem like everything about them is a little better? They seem kinder, more desirable, and funnier. Have you ever wondered why?
How come when you find someone good looking, their jokes land better and have better timing? What is it about a physical attraction that makes someone funnier?
It’s Not Just You
There are actual studies out there that have shown that people do find others funnier if they are attracted to that person.
According to one 2009 study from the University of Texas, this phenomenon may be directly tied to the evolutionary reasons behind humor. The study shows that humor helps initiate social relationships (and potentially romantic ones). As a result, people are more likely to laugh at someone if the romantic interest is reciprocated.
The assumption goes something like this: You find someone attractive. This leads to you more likely initiating a relationship with that person. This skews your entire perception of that person and makes them seem funnier.
Other studies have made similar findings. A 2017 study examined speed daters and found that speed daters who were rated as funnier were also found to be more attractive. The reverse was also true: People who were perceived to be less attractive were also found to be less funny.
People Want Humor – Particularly Women
Another study from 2015 shows that humor was an extremely desired trait for both men and women seeking relationships. However, it’s importance was oversized for women looking for long-term relationships.
However, again, the perceived sense of humor and physical attractiveness influenced each other. The study found that if someone found a prospective partner funny, they also found that individual to be funnier. This study confirmed it again: Physical attractiveness and someone’s perceived sense of humor cannot be viewed in isolation. Both influence each other, making it virtually impossible to rate a sense of humor and someone’s levels of attractiveness in a completely independent manner.
Causation Does Not Equal Correlation
All of these studies make it abundantly clear that the relationship between humor and attractiveness is not a one-way street. There is a class axiom when it comes to reviewing research: Causation does not equal correlation. This means that one factor rising and falling together does not mean that one is influencing the other. It is a possibility, for sure. But the reverse could also be true, or a third factor could be influencing both.
In this example, finding someone physically attractive may make them seem funnier. It’s also possible that finding someone funnier may make them seem more physically attractive. Furthermore, a third factor – like perceived compassion – may influence both of these ratings.
There is unquestionably a relationship between humor and attractiveness. However, more study is needed to clearly determine the exact nature of that relationship.