A Moment of Science

Funny Ladies

When women do find something to be genuinely funny, they feel rewarded in a way that men don't.

two women talking and laughing

Photo: Katie Laird

Women are more analytical when it comes to finding something funny.

You may have observed that men and women respond to humor differently.

Allan Reiss of Stanford University did a study with ten men and ten women who rated the funniness of cartoons while hooked up to MRI machines. Their brain activity showed that while men and women use the same basic brain areas when responding to humor, there are some differences. For example, the parts of the brain responsible for language, analytical thinking, and reward were more active in women than in men. This suggests that women are more analytical when it comes to finding something funny.

In other words, women are more discerning about whether something is funny or not. When women do find something to be genuinely funny, they feel rewarded in a way that men don’t. The implication is that women are humor connoisseurs while men are dolts that’ll laugh at pretty much anything.

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