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The evolution of humor from male aggression

Authors Shuster S

Received 13 December 2011

Accepted for publication 4 January 2012

Published 14 February 2012 Volume 2012:5 Pages 19—23


Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 2

Sam Shuster
Newcastle University, Newcastle Upon Type, NE1 7RU, UK

Abstract: The response to seeing a man riding a unicycle was reported to be consistently related to the viewer's sex and stage of physical development. To see if this observation was universal, observations of responses were collected from 23 male and 9 female unicyclists aged 15–69 years, with 2–40 years cycling experience across four continents. With two exceptions among men, the findings were the same as those originally reported: children showed interest and curiosity, young girls showed little interest, while adult women showed a kindly, concerned, praising response. By contrast, boys showed physical aggression, which became more verbal, merging in the later teens to the snide, aggressive, stereotyped humorous response shown by adult males, which became less frequent in elderly men. The universality of the response across different individuals, environments, and dates of observation suggests an endogenous mechanism, and the association with masculine development relates this to androgen. The theoretical consequences are discussed. It is concluded that humor develops from aggression in males and is evolutionarily related to sexual selection.

Keywords: humor evolution, male aggressive behavior

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