The more a man tries to be funny and the more a woman laughs at those attempts, the more likely it is for the woman to be interested in dating, says a new study.
When two strangers meet, finding someone who appreciates your sense of humor is valuable in its own right.
Men use humor to gauge if women are interested in them.
"Men are trying to get women to show their cards. For some men, it is a conscious strategy," said Jeffrey Hall, associate professor of communication studies at University of Kansas.
When men make jokes and women laugh, they may be performing a script in courtship.
Men acting like jokers and women laughing along may be part of it, too.
"The script is powerful and it is enduring, and it dictates everything from asking someone out to picking up the tab," Hall noted.
"If you meet someone who you can laugh with, it might mean your future relationship is going to be fun and filled with good cheer," Hall added.
During the research, Hall performed three studies.
In the first study, 35 participants studied the Facebook profile pages of 100 strangers to gauge their personalities.
Hall found humorous people were much more likely to be extroverted than intelligent and were seen by strangers that way too.
The data also suggested that men and women posted similar amounts of humorous content to their pages.
In the second study, nearly 300 students filled out a survey on humor in courtship.
Looking at scores, the study found that there was no connection between how smart the person was and how funny he or she claimed to be. But it did find a relationship with humor and extroversion.
The final study brought together 51 pairs of single, heterosexual college students who did not know each other.
The pairs sat alone in a room and talked for about 10 minutes.
"The results did suggest the more times a man tried to be funny and the more times a woman laughed at his jokes, the more likely she was romantically interested," the authors noted.
The reverse was not true for women who attempted humor.
It also showed that when the pair laughed together, they were more interested in each other.
"Shared laughter might be a pathway toward developing a more long-lasting relationship," Hall noted in a paper published online in the journal Evolutionary Psychology.