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Thread: The evolutionary advantage of humour in Homo Sapien survival behaviors

  1. #1 The evolutionary advantage of humour in Homo Sapien survival behaviors 
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    First, are there any ? If so, name them. Wild guesses welcome. Harder data is needed. I'd try to find this out on my own, but that's what I count on you guys for.


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    There is no advantage in survival. But there is an advantage on the side of sexual selection.

    A person who shows humor, is usually easier to get along with then someone who is serious all the freaking time.

    Second idea would be, humor is a show of intelligence. Someone who can make jokes about his profession, or hobbies, clearly mastered it, and shows confidence. The other sex loves confidence.


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    Growing up, i marveled at star-trek's science, and ignored the perfect society. Now, i try to ignore their science, and marvel at the society.

    Imagine, being able to create matter out of thin air, and not coming up with using drones for boarding hostile ships. Or using drones to defend your own ship. Heck, using drones to block energy attacks, counterattack or for surveillance. Unless, of course, they are nano-machines in your blood, which is a billion times more complex..
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    "There is no advantage in survival. But there is an advantage on the side of sexual selection.

    A person who shows humor, is usually easier to get along with then someone who is serious all the freaking time."

    In social animals, getting along means better bonding and cooperation--that is a survival advantage.
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    You must be fun at parties..

    Lol.. but you're right.

    *My thoughts about survival were way too abstract at first. I just meant survival for a single person, not in respect to a group. But yes, in groups, being able to fit in heightens survival chance.
    Last edited by Zwolver; April 1st, 2014 at 06:49 AM. Reason: Added asterix
    Growing up, i marveled at star-trek's science, and ignored the perfect society. Now, i try to ignore their science, and marvel at the society.

    Imagine, being able to create matter out of thin air, and not coming up with using drones for boarding hostile ships. Or using drones to defend your own ship. Heck, using drones to block energy attacks, counterattack or for surveillance. Unless, of course, they are nano-machines in your blood, which is a billion times more complex..
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    Universal Mind John Galt's Avatar
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    Humour involves the novel juxtaposition of unexpected 'neighbours'. This involves seeing relationships that are not obvious. That is evidence of creativity.

    Did creativity produce humour as a side-effect? Possible.

    Or did humour develop, as suggested, as an aid to sexual selection and help to evolve more inventive thought processes?

    Or perhaps a mutally supportive trajectory of evolution involving both aspects.
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    Forum Senior pineapples's Avatar
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    There’s a strong connection between humour and laughter, so I dug up a brief article regarding sense of humour in non-human primates that might help with your question:
    Apes Enjoy Slapstick Humor : Discovery News

    I found this particular extract of interest:
    "We think laughter long predates the appearance of language in human evolution, and was co-opted from play as a mechanism to allow bonding between larger numbers of individuals," Dunbar explained. "Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, which are the neurochemicals used in bonding in monkeys and apes. Laughter allows us to increase the size of the bonding group because several people can laugh together; whereas grooming is, even in humans, a one-to-one activity, with only the recipient gaining the benefit of the endorphins."
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    agree with Lynx - in addition, showing how clever you are through humour is another tool in your arsenal to get a mate
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zwolver View Post
    There is no advantage in survival.
    I don't know. It's kept me from killing a few people.
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    I see why a sense of humour is socially beneficial, but I do not quite understand what triggers laughter, specially a chimp that sees another chimp slip on a banana and fall, why is it triggering a laugh?
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    some times, laughter is just a release of tension
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    Given my looks and brains, if I couldn't make a woman laugh, I'd never be able to procreate.
    "Sometimes I think the surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." -Calvin
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    Quote Originally Posted by icewendigo View Post
    I see why a sense of humour is socially beneficial, but I do not quite understand what triggers laughter, specially a chimp that sees another chimp slip on a banana and fall, why is it triggering a laugh?
    One theory I read was that laughter in humans evolved from a primate vocalization that basically means "false alarm - everything's okay." And in a way, it does kind of still serve that purpose - you see a spider, jump, discover it's a fake plastic one that your room mate put in your bed, and laugh. We laugh for other reasons, but it is odd how often laughing follows being startled, surprised, or some situation where somebody could have gotten hurt but wasn't.
    Last edited by DianeG; April 3rd, 2014 at 07:46 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flick Montana View Post
    Given my looks and brains, if I couldn't make a woman laugh, I'd never be able to procreate.
    Good point. But why do women look for humor in a partner. Men rarely do this, even though i think we would prefer a "not so serious" wife over one that never laughs, but i doubt we would seek out funny girls at all costs. So why do some women do this with men?
    Growing up, i marveled at star-trek's science, and ignored the perfect society. Now, i try to ignore their science, and marvel at the society.

    Imagine, being able to create matter out of thin air, and not coming up with using drones for boarding hostile ships. Or using drones to defend your own ship. Heck, using drones to block energy attacks, counterattack or for surveillance. Unless, of course, they are nano-machines in your blood, which is a billion times more complex..
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flick Montana View Post
    Given my looks and brains, if I couldn't make a woman laugh, I'd never be able to procreate.
    Women laugh at my looks and brains all the time.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zwolver View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Flick Montana View Post
    Given my looks and brains, if I couldn't make a woman laugh, I'd never be able to procreate.
    Good point. But why do women look for humor in a partner. Men rarely do this, even though i think we would prefer a "not so serious" wife over one that never laughs, but i doubt we would seek out funny girls at all costs. So why do some women do this with men?
    Laughter causes the brain to release endorphins. It's a pleasurable experience. Women get addicted to that chemical release we give them when we make them laugh. That's my completely unfounded assumption.

    As for men and women having different priorities in the humor of a mate, I'd have to see some evidence regarding that.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zwolver View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Flick Montana View Post
    Given my looks and brains, if I couldn't make a woman laugh, I'd never be able to procreate.
    Good point. But why do women look for humor in a partner. Men rarely do this, even though i think we would prefer a "not so serious" wife over one that never laughs, but i doubt we would seek out funny girls at all costs. So why do some women do this with men?
    An evidence for this. Seriously, I doubt I'm very unique at all in that I don't even like a women in the least UNLESS she has a good sense of humor.
    --

    Alas there seems to be at least some support for your opinion as in this study's finding. Quite surprising.
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    i think women need a sence of humour. how can they take us seriously ?
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    Wow, that article is the whole shabang..

    I know many of you don't have access to the full article, but i wonder if i am allowed to upload it into this topic somehow, so everyone can read it.

    I will just copy a small piece of it.

    Even if most human reproduction has resulted from mutual mate choice in long-term relationships, we still find sexual dimorphism in many traits. The variance in reproductive success of ancestral men has likely exceeded that of ancestral women, due to desirable men's ability to acquire additional paternity through extra-pair copulation (Andersson,1994,pp.158-160) and to monopolize the reproductive potential of more than one woman (Daly & Wilson,1983,p.281). Under these circumstances, sexual selection might still have favored a greater preference for humor among women because male discriminativeness may have carried the cost of lost mating opportunities. In partial support of this idea, (Lundy, Tan, and Cunningham (1998)) Found that women rated physically attractive individuals who used self ridiculing humor as more desirable than similar individuals who did not use such humor, while men's rating of desirability were unaffected by humor use. However, because Lundy et al. used only self-ridiculing humor and did not directly compare the preference for humor between women and men, our knowledge of sex differences in attraction to humor is limited. This study investigated whether humor is more attractive to women than to men, and whether humor influences the humorist's perceived personality.
    Growing up, i marveled at star-trek's science, and ignored the perfect society. Now, i try to ignore their science, and marvel at the society.

    Imagine, being able to create matter out of thin air, and not coming up with using drones for boarding hostile ships. Or using drones to defend your own ship. Heck, using drones to block energy attacks, counterattack or for surveillance. Unless, of course, they are nano-machines in your blood, which is a billion times more complex..
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  20. #19  
    Forum Cosmic Wizard spuriousmonkey's Avatar
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    is humour a genetically defined trait?
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    Quote Originally Posted by spuriousmonkey View Post
    is humour a genetically defined trait?
    in your case, it's a genetically modified trait
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zwolver View Post
    Wow, that article is the whole shabang..

    I know many of you don't have access to the full article, but i wonder if i am allowed to upload it into this topic somehow, so everyone can read it.

    I will just copy a small piece of it.

    Even if most human reproduction has resulted from mutual mate choice in long-term relationships, we still find sexual dimorphism in many traits. The variance in reproductive success of ancestral men has likely exceeded that of ancestral women, due to desirable men's ability to acquire additional paternity through extra-pair copulation (Andersson,1994,pp.158-160) and to monopolize the reproductive potential of more than one woman (Daly & Wilson,1983,p.281). Under these circumstances, sexual selection might still have favored a greater preference for humor among women because male discriminativeness may have carried the cost of lost mating opportunities. In partial support of this idea, (Lundy, Tan, and Cunningham (1998)) Found that women rated physically attractive individuals who used self ridiculing humor as more desirable than similar individuals who did not use such humor, while men's rating of desirability were unaffected by humor use. However, because Lundy et al. used only self-ridiculing humor and did not directly compare the preference for humor between women and men, our knowledge of sex differences in attraction to humor is limited. This study investigated whether humor is more attractive to women than to men, and whether humor influences the humorist's perceived personality.
    If laughter did evolve from a primate vocalization that means "false alarm-every thing okay," then humor implies the ability to distinguish real threats from false threats, which I think would be a valuable trait in a mate. It means he won't over look genuine dangers because he gets distracted by something superficial and meaningless, and he won't overreact to unintentional actions, like becoming aggressive towards a playful juvenile or his own mate. Just a theory.
    Last edited by DianeG; April 11th, 2014 at 10:00 AM.
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    Found a free copy online. bresslerbalshine - Learning Ace - 1

    The big flaw in this paper is the one that many people observe in a lot of psychological studies.

    The mean age of all 200+ participants in the study was 19.1 years, and they were all undergraduate psychology students.

    Anyone who thinks you can get an accurate representation of a whole population from such a limited "range" of people is kidding themselves. You might get a hypothesis worthy of further testing, but no more than that. Doing such a test on groups which included more representative sampling of ages, backgrounds, occupations and interests could give you something worth concluding about a population of a country.

    The idea that it has any significance for any biological/ genetic/ innate/ universal mate preference or selection process is completely over-reaching the limitations of this kind of research. (The problem of WEIRD subject groups - Western, Educated, Industrial, Rich, Democratic subjects may not be representative of their own population when they're so tightly confined to one faculty at tertiary education institutions. How any such findings might relate to a Bolivian peasant or to a Malaysian oligarch or to traditional nomads or farmers in North Africa or Northern Scandinavia is never even considered, let alone analysed.)
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    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    Found a free copy online. bresslerbalshine - Learning Ace - 1

    The big flaw in this paper is the one that many people observe in a lot of psychological studies.

    The mean age of all 200+ participants in the study was 19.1 years, and they were all undergraduate psychology students.

    Anyone who thinks you can get an accurate representation of a whole population from such a limited "range" of people is kidding themselves. You might get a hypothesis worthy of further testing, but no more than that. Doing such a test on groups which included more representative sampling of ages, backgrounds, occupations and interests could give you something worth concluding about a population of a country.

    The idea that it has any significance for any biological/ genetic/ innate/ universal mate preference or selection process is completely over-reaching the limitations of this kind of research. (The problem of WEIRD subject groups - Western, Educated, Industrial, Rich, Democratic subjects may not be representative of their own population when they're so tightly confined to one faculty at tertiary education institutions. How any such findings might relate to a Bolivian peasant or to a Malaysian oligarch or to traditional nomads or farmers in North Africa or Northern Scandinavia is never even considered, let alone analysed.)

    That's an interesting idea. Is there any human culture that lacks humor? My daughter told me that there is no way to be sarcastic in Chinese. Is that true?
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    I'm pretty sure the capacity for humour is pretty general, though it is expressed differently.

    My criticism is not about humour, it's about whether the conclusions of that paper that men don't respond to humour from women. (Though I suspect it might have something to do with the ghastly selection of "humorous" remarks they used for the study.) I'd think there would be differences between 19 year old psychology students responding to jokes from 19 year old psychology students and between people of different backgrounds and mixed/older ages. I'd think the study results might be quite different in groups of say 25-35-45 year old carpenters, teachers, retail staff and clerical workers. Or they might not. Do the same thing with mixed occupations, educational backgrounds and ages in different cultures and the results might be quite surprising.

    As for the Chinese. They certainly have different ideas about fun. One of our staff who had previously run an international school warned us about dealing with Chinese families. Parents would not see any value in students enjoying their work so we should not mention it. We should also prime the parents when the students were due for progress prizes - parents would be inclined to accuse their children of stealing things they weren't entitled to. (One did exactly that.) Westerners might see childhood as a time for play and for fun, Chinese people see it very differently. Childhood is the time for hard work and making your family proud rather than for being happy.
    DianeG likes this.
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    Quote Originally Posted by DianeG View Post
    My daughter told me that there is no way to be sarcastic in Chinese. Is that true?
    No, it isn't true.
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    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    As for the Chinese. They certainly have different ideas about fun. One of our staff who had previously run an international school warned us about dealing with Chinese families. Parents would not see any value in students enjoying their work so we should not mention it. We should also prime the parents when the students were due for progress prizes - parents would be inclined to accuse their children of stealing things they weren't entitled to. (One did exactly that.) Westerners might see childhood as a time for play and for fun, Chinese people see it very differently. Childhood is the time for hard work and making your family proud rather than for being happy.
    Anecdotally speaking, a typical Chinese family are more often than not, rather concerned and serious about their child's education, especially more so when they (the child) are sent abroad for studies and/or higher education due to the expenses incurred. Call us culturally conservative, but we tend to view the early years of a child as a period for when they are primed for adulthood, and education is an important part of that process that leads to and affects the type of careers they set themselves on.

    That's not to say that we would deny a child playtime or fun, but the priority of education will more often come first above all else if weighed side-by-side. As for making the family proud, it isn't really that. We do take pride in our child's progress, but the result is more for them (the child) than it is for the parents. I tend to see it as the parents being overly and easily worried than it is to ensure that they take pride in their child's achievements.

    I hope this shed some light on the topic.
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    There is a theory that the origin of humour is in humiliation and that humour was originally a mechanism to encourage conformity. I am not sure that I buy it completely, but it partly explains the phenomena. I personally believe that humour encourages an individual to make clever, but honest, observations about their society and critique irrational behaviors in a socially acceptable way. This could aid in social evolution, improving society as a whole rather than the life of the individual. The other theories seem to have already been mentioned. It may also be a way to exhibit intelligence/sociability to impress mates. There may be some spiritual component to it as well though it does little good to speculate on such a thing.
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    Quote Originally Posted by SowZ37 View Post
    There is a theory that the origin of humour is in humiliation and that humour was originally a mechanism to encourage conformity. I am not sure that I buy it completely, but it partly explains the phenomena. I personally believe that humour encourages an individual to make clever, but honest, observations about their society and critique irrational behaviors in a socially acceptable way. This could aid in social evolution, improving society as a whole rather than the life of the individual. The other theories seem to have already been mentioned. It may also be a way to exhibit intelligence/sociability to impress mates. There may be some spiritual component to it as well though it does little good to speculate on such a thing.

    Hmmm. That's an interesting idea. I always tended to think humor was subversive, but I can see it functioning that way as well, to cajole and tease someone into behaving a certain way, as opposed to outright punishing or shunning them. Whether it's subversive or conforming, it works by making the person look ridiculous. It attacks their status.

    I've always been creeped out by celebrity roasts, because the jokes are always a little too biting, usually not funny, and the person getting roasted has to fake laughing and enjoyment in order to appear good natured and unaffected.

    Either way, laughter is something that helps people gage the seriousness of the threat, in the same way monkeys playing or dogs wrestling have ways of distinguishing a a playful contest from a fight to the death.
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    I've always been creeped out by celebrity roasts, because the jokes are always a little too biting, usually not funny, and the person getting roasted has to fake laughing and enjoyment in order to appear good natured and unaffected.
    I think the "roast" formal occasion is very much a US thing. I cringe when I see any reports of them. I see them as public bullying.
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    Quote Originally Posted by DianeG View Post
    My daughter told me that there is no way to be sarcastic in Chinese. Is that true?
    Of course it is. [/sarcasm]
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  32. #31  
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    Some intriguing information - THE SCIENCE OF HUMOUR | More Intelligent Life
    “It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.” Charles Darwin
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Galt View Post
    Humour involves the novel juxtaposition of unexpected 'neighbours'.
    Yes, I think of it as cognitive dissonance.

    Quote Originally Posted by sculptor View Post
    some times, laughter is just a release of tension
    Yes, this particular cognitive dissonance is not a cause for alarm, so laugh it off, send out the "all is well" signal. A mutual sense of humor seems a means of social bonding. People almost feel offended when someone in a group does not laugh at something that everyone else thinks is "humorous" (ie, no cause for alarm). They laugh it off, but this person cannot. C'mon, we think this cognitive dissonance is harmless, but it alarms this person. Now, no one can relax. What a wet blanket.

    Quote Originally Posted by Zwolver View Post
    women look for humor in a partner. Men rarely do ...
    Au contraire, I think a man would want a woman whom he can make laugh — generally make happy. A smiling or laughing woman seems happy, relaxed, disarmed.

    Grief is the price we pay for love. (CM Parkes) Our postillion has been struck by lightning. (Unknown) War is always the choice of the chosen who will not have to fight. (Bono) The years tell much what the days never knew. (RW Emerson) Reality is not always probable, or likely. (JL Borges)
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  34. #33  
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    Quote Originally Posted by jrmonroe View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Zwolver View Post
    women look for humor in a partner. Men rarely do ...
    Au contraire, I think a man would want a woman whom he can make laugh — generally make happy. A smiling or laughing woman seems happy, relaxed, disarmed.
    So to laugh or make laugh, are gender roles? How about between parents and children - also lopsided? Personally, I'm far more comedic toward kids than any others.

    Perhaps the roots of laughter are in parents stimulating their offspring...? Our enjoyment of the baby's giggles would encourage us to do more of same. The evolutionary advantage to getting positive feedback for good, rich parenting is obvious.
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    Yes. The advantage of humour can play a role in sexual selection as it arouses and comforts the female persuasion, acquiring us to mate and to pass on genes that include a positive upbringing. I think it could also be a benefit for our mindset generally as self-aware animals - meaning that we can avoid excess negativity in a social group.
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    Laughter evolved before humans. Many animals that laugh play with each other as juveniles in such a way that improves hunting ability. My guess is that it evolved as a means for playing animals to distinguish between play and actual aggression.
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