A good sense of humour is commonly offered in written dating advertisements demonstrating that humour is an important quality to have when attracting a mate, but not all humour is the same. This study used vignettes in the style of a personal advertisement to measure the attractiveness of affiliative and aggressive humour in different relationship contexts. The results demonstrated that affiliative humour was more attractive than aggressive humour in both relationship contexts but especially for long-term relationships. The results follow the pattern expected of affiliative humour styles being more attractive for long-term relationships due to being linked to qualities that may be important in long-term relationships such as likelihood of cooperation, and aggressive humour styles not being favoured for long-term relationships due to being linked to qualities that may be detrimental in long-term relationships. A follow-up study confirmed that different humour styles were associated with different perceived personality traits. Together these findings suggest that humour may be used to indicate an individual's personality and that the attractiveness of a good sense of humour depends on both the type of humour and the type of relationship being sought.
In many animals red is a signal of dominance and in humans there is evidence that red colouration may provide an advantage in sporting competition. This has been disputed by findings showing that colours other than red can also provide a competitive advantage. Here we examine basic perception of red versus blue in simple shapes by human judges to address the social signalling properties of red. We show that red is seen as more likely to win in physical competitions, more aggressive and more dominant then blue. When hue information is removed, however, the darker contrast of the blue shapes leads to a reversal in the attributions. This confirms that red hue is special in social attribution consistent with it being a signal of competitive quality and that darker contrast, through a potential link to testosterone signalling, could also act as a signal of dominance.
Women demonstrate stronger preferences for femininity when assessing men's attractiveness for long-term rather than short-term relationships. One explanation of this effect is that the pro-social traits associated with femininity are particularly important for long-term relationships. This explanation has recently been challenged, however, following null findings for effects of pro-social attributions on women's preferences for feminine long-term partners. A limitation of these latter analyses is that they did not consider hormonal contraceptive use, which is a factor that previous studies suggest affects mate preferences. In our study, we found that women not using hormonal contraceptives demonstrated stronger preferences for femininity in men's faces when assessing men as long-term partners than when assessing men as short-term partners. Moreover, this effect was most pronounced among women who perceived feminine men as particularly trustworthy. No equivalent effects were observed among women using hormonal contraceptives. These findings support the proposal that the effect of relationship context on women's face preferences occurs, at least in part, because women value pro-social traits more in long-term than short-term partners. Additionally, our findings suggest that both hormonal contraceptive use and individual differences in perceptions of pro-social traits modulate the effect of relationship context on women's face preferences.