Men Marginally Funnier Than Women: Study

UCSD researchers found that men think men are funnier than women

A new study by UCSD researchers found what many claim to be true: men are funnier than women.

However, the study also found that men believe they are funnier than they actually are.

The study pitted female students against their male counterparts in a caption-writing contest. The writers earned points based off the amount of laughs their captions earned. Men received .11 points more than women – a negligible amount, author of the study Laura Mickes said in a statement.

"The differences we find between men's and women's ability to be funny are so small that they can't account for the strength of the belief in the stereotype," said Mickes, a postdoctoral researcher in the UC San Diego Department of Psychology and a Ph.D. graduate of the same department.

A win nevertheless. Yet the team of researchers pointed to an interesting trend in the results – men trying to impress women often end up impressing other men more. Male subjects gave men a significantly higher average of .16 more points, while female subjects gave an average .06 more points to the male writers.

Another related test also found that when the captions were funny, many of the study’s participants guessed that men wrote them.

This may be due to confidence, the study suggests. Women attempt to be funny less than men do, according to New Yorker cartoon editor Robert Mankoff, who co-authored the study.

In the New Yorker caption contest, nine out of 10 “most devoted entrants” are men. Fewer women enter the contest, so fewer women win, Mankoff said.

In a self-evaluation, men also gave themselves higher scores than women. On average, the scores they gave themselves were a lot higher than the scores they actually got.

The study’s authors declined to say exactly what makes men funnier – but they did note the interesting fact that men believe they are funnier than they actually are.

"Male confidence, in this domain at least, does seem to outstrip male competence," the authors said. 

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