To explain the pervasive role of humor in human social interaction and among mating partner preferences, Miller (2000a) proposed that intentional humor evolved as an indicator of intelligence. To test this, we looked at the relationships among rater-judged humor, general intelligence, and the Big Five personality traits in a sample of 185 college-age students (115 women, 70 men). General intelligence positively predicted rater-judged humor, independent of the Big Five personality traits. Extraversion also predicted rater-judged humor, although to a lesser extent than general intelligence. General intelligence did not interact with the sex of the participant in predicting rating scores on the humor production tasks. The current study lends support to the prediction that effective humor production acts as an honest indicator of intelligence in humans. In addition, extraversion, and to a lesser extent, openness, may reflect motivational traits that encourage humor production.
Howrigan, D. P., &MacDonald, K. B. (2008). Humor as a mental fitness indicator. Evolutionary Psychology, 6(4), 652-666.