Almost everything that women like in men seems to have some reproductive fitness signaling value. What about humor? Note that it’s not enough to say that “humor is a stress reliever.” The question is, why would it relieve stress?
The best guesses that I have:
- Humor signals contextual intelligence in quick, bite-size forms. You have to know about the local social environment and be intelligent to be spontaneously funny.
- Humor is the mechanism via which the brain can engage in some self-observation (nearly impossible for the brain to do otherwise) by noticing how much of our environment is actually predictive guesses based on pattern matching. Obviously false pattern matches (which a lot of humor is based on) show that we can be wrong about serious things, and so we take them, well, less seriously. This can reduce stress.
- To make jokes, you must play with patterns and make them incomplete on purpose. To do so, you have to be able to complete patterns as well – the ability to reason. Therefore a humorous animal is a reasoning animal. Do non-human animals laugh and joke around?
- Any others?