Madelijn Strick on the origin of humour

Why do people have a sense of humour? Madelijn Strick, psychologist and member of the Utrecht Young Academy, discusses some of the functions of laughing in Algemeen Dagblad

Dr. Madelijn Strick

Group Formation

"The academic consensus is that humor originated from playing," explains Strick. "As monkeys, we were constantly wrestling and running after one another. All that tumbling caused a ton of panting, and that's what created laughter." Gradually, humour and laughing became ways for groups to establish a sense of solidarity. 

Male and female

Strick explains the ways men and women use humour differently: "Male humour is sarcastic, it contains a lot of teasing and scoring points against each other. Women use humour to create connections with others. They tend to lean more towards self-mockery." When men and women come together, it is usually the men making the jokes while women laugh at them. According to Strick, this is a taught cultural pattern.