If you've got a date lined up in the near future, you might want to work on your witticisms in advance: a new study from the US suggests that the more effort a man makes to be funny, and the more laughter he gets in response, the better the chances of romance in the long term. When both partners are able to laugh together, the date is most likely to lead to something more serious.
It's an encouraging thought for those whose sense of humour might be more appealing than their physical looks. "If you meet someone who you can laugh with, it might mean your future relationship is going to be fun and filled with good cheer," explained lead researcher Jeffrey Hall from the University of Kansas in a press release.
Hall originally began by investigating the link between humour and intelligence, but the question of whether women do actually appreciate the male sense of humour ended up being one of the central points of the study.
A number of tests were carried out: 35 volunteers rated the Facebook profiles of 100 strangers, 300 students filled out a survey on humour and courtship, and then 51 single volunteers spent 10 minutes chatting to a partner they'd never met and reported back on how attractive they were. By combining all of these studies, Hall was able to build up a comprehensive picture of the relationship between humour and romance.
There was no evidence that either sex tried harder to be funny, but more jokes from the man and more laughter from the woman was a good indicator that she was romantically interested, according to the survey data published in Evolutionary Psychology. Hall found no link between a sense of humour and intelligence, though having a fully functioning funny bone does seem to be related to how extroverted someone is, he said.
Hall offered up four ideas as to why humour appears to be so important in forming long-lasting relationships: it points towards a sociable and agreeable personality; it helps people to gauge if a relationship might work; it's now become a universally recognised part of courtship; and it acts as a 'pathway' to deepening a relationship.
"Part of what it means to be social is the ability to joke along with people," says Hall. "The 'script' [of laughter and joking] is powerful and it is enduring, and it dictates everything from asking someone out to picking up the tab."
So there you have it - brush up on your one-liners and you might stand a better chance of success with the opposite sex... or at least a better chance of working out whether a pairing has potential or not.