Women like to date men who make them laugh due to evolutionary differences hard-wired into our brains, according to new research.
Scientists found that women’s brains show greater activity than men’s in reward-related regions in response to humour.
The finding is consistent with the idea that women have evolved to appreciate humour, whereas men have evolved to produce humour.
According to this view, women use a man’s ability to make them laugh as a way to judge his genetic fitness as a suitable partner and potential father.
The new study, by Stanford University School of Medicine, involved scanning the brains of 22 girls and boys aged from six to 13 as they viewed funny videos, such as people falling over and animals performing tricks.
For comparison, the children also watched ‘positive’ clips, featuring dancers and snowboarders, and neutral clips, featuring nature videos and children riding bikes.
In addition to MRI scanning of their brains, the children were also asked how much they enjoyed the clips and how funny they found them.
During funny clips, girls brains showed more heightened activity than the boys’ in a range of areas including the midbrain and amygdala.
This indicates that girls experienced stronger mirth and positive feelings, the researchers, whose findings are published in the journal Social Neuroscience, said.
“Our data for the first time disclose that sex differences in humour appreciation already exist in young children,” they wrote.
They added their findings suggest selecting a mate by responding to humour is more effective in women “because the female brain, and particularly the reward circuit, is biologically better prepared to respond accordingly.”
The study, which the authors said was the first to examine gender-related brain differences in response to humour in children, suggests that such differences have evolved rather than being learnt.
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