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Laughter and Gender

Friday, November 14, 2008 - 10:47 AM

Mrs. Murphy’s Manners for Women, a British how-to from 1897, has very particular ideas about the role of women’s laughter.

“Laughing should be carefully taught. The thing to be guarded against is that the inculcated laugh is apt to grow stereotyped, and few things are more irritating than to hear it over and over again, begin on the same note, run down the same scale, and consequently express no more mirth than the keys of the piano.
There is no greater ornament to conversation than the ripple of silvery notes that form the perfect laugh. It makes the person who evokes it feel pleased with himself, and invests what he has said with a charm of wit and humor which might not be otherwise observed.”

I wonder what Mrs. Murphy might have made of this peculiar ornament?

It has recently become clear that Mrs. Murphy’s strategy may be useful even when the witticism in question isn’t actually uttered by a man, but merely in the presence of one. According to Vanderbilt professor Jo-Anne Bachorowski, who has recorded more than 30,000 laughs, women laugh more frequently and at a higher pitch in the company of men than in the company of other women, even when they’re reacting to the exact same material (in this case, funny movies).

Perhaps this has inspired this (unintentionally) hilarious site plugging another how-to: “Closely Guarded Secrets To Attract Beautiful Women Using The Power Of Humor... Guaranteed!” Regular price: $97. Act now for deep discounts.

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Comments [4]

mousey anon

It doesn't seem very scientific but I noticed this pattern on World of Warcraft. WoW records how many times you type "LoL" in your conversations. And what I have noticed is that female players will use "LoL" more often than a male player. It's just a personal observation.

Nov. 26 2008 07:03 PM
Jake

From the attracting women site "There are only a few 'backdoors' you can use to get into the hearts, minds and beds of hot women. I won't go into all 5 now. However, one of those backdoors is humor." What are the other 4? I'm dying to know! Also, if a woman is merely cute, not hot, are there less backdoors, or more?

Nov. 21 2008 02:43 PM
Peter Vlasveld

now if only I could get women to laugh at my jokes instead of the "you are a freak" look. lol

Nov. 15 2008 01:04 PM
Carol Henning

Great Scott!!! Chris Hitchens was RIGHT??!?!?!?! http://www.vanityfair.com/culture/features/2007/01/hitchens200701

Nov. 14 2008 06:44 PM

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