Turns out, it's a pretty funny one.
Is your love life starting to resemble a tragedy? Science says you might want to work on your timing – comedic timing, that is. New research from the University of Kansas suggests that laughter might be the best indicator of future romance when two people meet.
The results, published in the journal Evolutionary Psychology, came, like both the best relationships and punch lines, unexpectedly, when a sequence of three studies looking for the relationship between humor and intelligence bombed.
Researchers first had 35 participants scan 100 Facebook profiles and asked to predict the strangers’ personalities. Rather than linking mirth to intelligence, it merely found that the more extroverted a person was, the more they were perceived to be amusing.
This led to the second study, which had 300 students complete a survey gauging personality, humor, and intelligence (according to GPA and ACT scores). Again, humor and extroversion was linked, but there was no connection between intelligence and humor.
Finally researchers looked at humor in romantic relationships. For the study’s closer, they had 51 pairs of single, heterosexual college students meet alone and chat for 10 minutes, then fill out a survey. Like the other studies, neither gender riffed more than the other. But the punch line for this study? When a man tried to be funny and the woman laughed at him, it was more likely that the woman was interested in exploring and heightening where the relationship went. Men weren’t more likely to want to start dating if he laughed at her jokes, though. And if the two of them both laughed together, there was a higher likelihood that they would hit it off.
Lead researcher Jeffrey Hall finds a couple of truths in comedy from his study: that humor is an easy way to show you have an agreeable personality and that men use humor to get a feel for how the woman thinks of him. But this isn’t just all improv: the couples might also simply be following a social dating script. He stresses, though, that a good laugh is just that – good. “Shared laughter might be a pathway toward developing a more long-lasting relationship,” Hall said in a statement. And that's no laughing matter.