Comedians are shyer than most other people, claims a new study.
"I guess the stage gives them the opportunity to be what they want to be and may not necessarily represent their daily-life personalities," New Scientist quoted Gil Greengross, an anthropologist at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, as saying.
To reach the conclusion, Greengross and colleague Geoffrey Miller assigned personality tests to 31 professional comedians.
The 60-question test gauged the "big five" classic personality traits: openness to experience, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness and neuroticism.
The comedians rated their agreement with statements such as "I think it's interesting to develop new hobbies", "At times I have felt bitter and resentful", and "Poetry has little or no effect on me".
Then, the researchers compared their scores to those of 400 university students and 10 humour writers.
On average, the professional comics scored highly on openness to new experience compared with students, yet lower than comedy writers.
Also, the volunteers had lower scores on average for conscientiousness, agreeableness and extroversion, compared with the other groups. The team noticed no difference in neuroticism scores.
"The fact is that a lot of the time they spend by themselves. They also travel a lot. That might explain why they do have introverted personalities," said Greengross, who performed the study as part of a dissertation on the evolutionary value of humour.
The study has been published in the journal Personality and Individual Difference.