Bitching Brew

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Women like good jokes. Stop the press!

Many of this morning's papers carry the results of a minor experiment. Here's the Guardian's article. A study was carried out analysing the neural responses of men and women to... jokes. The research has minor implications for other fields as well - have to make some kind of profit from research, eh?! I do get the feeling the joke analysis was tacked on to get a bag of free publicity. But maybe I'm just cynical - sure that kind of thing never happens. Hmph.

I wouldn't put a great deal of faith in the results - the sample group consisted of 10 men and 10 women. Yes, folks, a whopping total of 20 test subjects! (Out of a population of 6 billion!) Statistics 101: a small sample size doesn't invalidate the test results, but it doesn't allow you to draw statistically significant inferences about the population. In other words, it's difficult to draw any sound conclusions from such a small data set.

Dr Reiss said women seemed to analyse the cartoons more before rating them funny, because they were not necessarily expecting them to be as rewarding as men.

"Women appeared to have less expectation of a reward, which in this case was the punchline of the cartoon," said Dr Reiss. "So when they got to the joke's punchline, they were more pleased about it." The funnier the cartoon, the more women's reward centres were activated.

Well for one, women are more likely to be exposed to awful chat-up lines/jokes than men are. So maybe they learn not to raise their expectations. I can't blame them... But I can draw another, deeper analogy from the highlighted piece. Are you thinking what I'm thinking? As ever, leave a comment! ;)



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