Men are naturally more comedic than women because of the male hormone testosterone, an expert claims.
Men make more gags than women and their jokes tend to be more aggressive, Professor Sam Shuster, of Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, says.
The unicycling doctor observed how the genders reacted to his “amusing” hobby.
Women tended to make encouraging, praising comments, while men jeered. The most aggressive were young men, he told the British Medical Journal.
Previous findings have suggested women and men differ in how they use and appreciate humour.
Women tend to tell fewer jokes than men and male comedians outnumber female ones.
Professor Shuster believes humour develops from aggression caused by male hormones.
He documented the reaction of over 400 individuals to his unicycling antics through the streets of Newcastle upon Tyne.
Almost half of people responded verbally – more being men. Very few of the women made comic or snide remarks, while 75% of the men attempted comedy – mostly shouting out “Lost your wheel?”, for example.
Often the men’s comments were mocking and intended as a put-down. Young men in cars were particularly aggressive – they lowered their windows and shouted abusively.
This type of behaviour decreased among older men however, who tended to offer more admiring comments, much like the women.
“The idea that unicycling is intrinsically funny does not explain the findings,” said Professor Shuster.
The simplest explanation, he says, is the effect of male hormones such as testosterone.
“The difference between the men and women was absolutely remarkable and consistent,” said Professor Shuster.
“At 11-13 years, the boys began to get really aggressive. Into puberty, the aggression became more marked, then it changed into a form of joke. The men were snide.”
The initial aggressive intent seems to become channelled into a more subtle and sophisticated joke, so the aggression is hidden by wit, explained Professor Shuster.
Hold on, lemme check something. Nope. Not The Onion.
First of all, I’m not sure what Professor Shuster is supposed to be an “expert” in (perhaps unicycling) but it’s certainly not behavioural psychology. According to the bio on this spiked-online essay (which tries to argue that UV rays really don’t cause cancer–oh, and Shuster is also convinced that performance enhancing drugs don’t actually enhance athletic performance, either):
Sam Shuster is Emeritus Professor of Dermatology at the University of Newcastle Upon Tyne, and Honorary Consultant to the Department of Dermatology, Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.
So, we have a skin doctor trying to argue that teh menz have more humour juice than teh wimminz flowing through their mighty veins (he also has funny–hahaha–ideas about the motivations of Karl Marx). And the Beeb decided that this qualified him as an “expert”.
But the writer has quoted an actual psychologist who seems to back up Shuster’s patently ridiculous claim:
Dr Nick Neave is a psychologist at the University of Northumbria who has been studying the physical, behavioural, and psychological effects of testosterone.
He suggested men might respond aggressively because they see the other unicycling man as a threat, attracting female attention away from themselves.
“This would be particularly challenging for young males entering the breeding market and thus it does not surprise me that their responses were the more threatening.”
Attracting away female attention? “Entering the breeding market?” That doesn’t sound like “psychology”; that sounds like evolutionary psychology.
You’re a successful woman with a job to die for, a fabulous home and a supportive husband, but do you ever get the urge to check his mobile phone for love messages? Or his bank statements for intimate meals a deux that you didn’t share? And do you lie awake at night worrying how you’ll cope if the worst happens, your fears are proved and your husband walks out?
Don’t worry. Your suspicion is only natural. At the risk of sounding extraordinarily sexist, I’m convinced that women, even in the happiest of relationships, are programmed to worry their men are going to abandon them.
And they’re terrified – in a way that most men find it frankly impossible to imagine. What’s more, if their forebodings come true, women are more inclined to forgive an affair than a man if the shoe is on the other foot. That’s not because they’re nicer, more easygoing individuals. It’s simply because their primeval urge to hang onto a male provider is so strong.
Women in the 21st century may boast that they are truly independent for the first time in our social history. They may tell themselves and each other that they don’t need a man. They can even start a family on their own thanks to IVF techniques.
But, while feminists may argue this proves women have finally kicked off the shackles of dependence on men, I’m afraid they’re wrong.
In evolutionary terms the huge cultural changes over the past generation amount simply to the merest blink of an eye. It could take another 10,000 years for women to change their thinking.
Quite simply, women are preprogrammed to feel dependent on men. Even today women may be richer and enjoy all the trappings of success but, deep down in their psyche, they fear they can’t survive alone.
Dr. Neave was also called upon to provide expert commentary on a study (also covered by the Beeb) claiming women are bad drivers–and it’s “linked to hormones”:
“The sexes do use different skills to find their way around. Men seem to be able to keep the route in their head without landmarks, whereas women do use them.
“So men may be better at finding the car when its parked in a huge shopping centre car-park. It may also tap into driving and parking abilities.”
He added: “Men do seem to be better at spatial abilities, and women at verbal and emotional skills.
“It may be a generalisation, but that does seem to be the case.”
Gee, and people say feminism is irrelevant.
So, to recap: We have a unicycling contrarian dermatologist and an evo-psych quack arguing that teh menz hold a genetic patent on teh funnah. And the braintrust at the Beeb decided that all this = story!!111one
I’ve got a few snide remarks, but I doubt they have anything to do with my testosterone level.
Update 12.23: Er, so, the study really was meant to be satirical? My head hurts. Can only imagine how the folks @ The BMJ and the Beeb feel (to say nothing of The Onion).