Why Does Everyone Love Self-Deprecating Humor?

Illustration for article titled Why Does Everyone Love Self-Deprecating Humor?

An anthropologist named Gil Greengross is publishing a study in next month's Journal of Evolutionary Psychology with the borderline-ridiculous title: Dissing Oneself: The Sexual Attractiveness of Self-Deprecating Humour. According to the Guardian, Greengross studied the role of humor in sexual selection for 2 years and was "surprised" how often self-deprecating humor was used. Surprised? Really? Do men actually think that women wants a cocky guy who brags about himself all the time?It should be noted that Mr. Greengross conducted his study in Britain, which is Hugh Grant country. Greengross says: "Self-deprecating humour can be an especially reliable indicator not only of general intelligence and verbal creativity, but also of moral virtues such as humility." In other words, it's important to be smart, quick and funny when you put yourself down, because chicks dig witty, humble dudes. Another anthropologist, Kate Fox, sums it up thusly:

"Pomposity and self-importance are outlawed. Serious matters can be spoken of seriously, but one must never take oneself too seriously… As long as everyone understands the rules, they are duly impressed both by one's achievements and by one's reluctance to trumpet them."


What neither Greengross nor Fox discuss is the why. Why are we attracted to successful, smart people as long as they don't claim to be successful or smart? It's not about tearing yourself down — someone with zero confidence isn't very attractive — but humans also seem to be wary of the other end of the spectrum; shouting how awesome you are from the rooftops is a dealbreaker. So do we just like moderation? And what's the evolutionary advantage in that? Biologists would have us believe that the brightest peacock gets the hen, just like the most powerful ram and the loudest rooster, or whatever. And when "mating," looking for a mate with power makes sense, even if we have evolved beyond that and share power these days. But seriously: I love it as much as the next girl, but what good is self-deprecating humor in the urban jungle? Maybe I'm slow, but I just don't get it. Laughter: The Secret Of Love [Guardian] Ellie Levenson: British Men And The Art Of Seduction [Independent] The MOST Effective Way To Get A Woman Into Bed Is By Running Yourself Down, Say Scientists [Daily Mail]



@gold_gato: I know! The hipsters have to get their own words. I was a geek/nerd/dork before it was cool and have the mental scars to show it. By the time "Revenge of the Nerds" hit the theaters I was already contemplating a life as an engineer. Self deprecating humor is the only way I survived, and became my only "move" when it came to the opposite sex. Thankfully a lot of women like to laugh more than they care about how their date looks.