Shrewsbury School

The cognitive revolution and the evolution of humour

Friday 2 February 2018

A report by Jennifer Westermann (M UVI) on a talk given by Dr Gil Greengross as part of our Academic Extension lecture series.

Dr Gil Greengross is an evolutionary psychologist at the University of Aberystwyth whose main area of research is studying the evolutionary roots of everyday behaviours and emotions, particularly humour and laughter. He delivered an informative and interesting lecture on 25th January about how we developed our large brains over our evolutionary history. 

The development of these large brains meant that we could process more complex information. This meant that we could develop more intricate social networks, which inevitably led to the evolution of humour.

He described the vital role humour plays in society, although he did show that humour is not the best medicine, it is key in choosing a mate. Interestingly, the role humour plays in choosing a mate differs between men and women. Reportedly men prefer women who laugh at their jokes rather than ones who make funny jokes, and women prefer men who are funny rather than those who laugh at their jokes. Although I don’t fall into that category, it was very interesting to learn more about the role humour plays in mate choice and how it evolved. 

back to top