Is Humor Genetic? Can You Be Born Funny & Other Questions

It’s common knowledge that every person’s sense of humor depends on their own preferences, character traits, and view of the world.

If dark humor and sarcasm are your humor of choice, it doesn’t mean it will make your friend or colleague laugh, too, if they prefer more lighthearted comedy.

The point is: we all have different things that make us laugh as we’re all separate individuals. However, do genetics play a role in what we find funny?

Is humor genetic? Do we inherit our sense of humor, or do we mainly develop it through behavioral influences as we grow up?

Keep reading to find out!

Is humor genetic?

Is Comedy Inherited? – What Science Has to Say

A few studies have been done on the link between humor and genes. The most frequent ones involved researchers observing identical twins and looking at how genes affect their sense of humor and personality traits. 

For example, there was a study with 390 adult twins who were asked to rate 48 cartoons of different humor categories (nonsense, satirical, aggressive, and sexual) based on how funny they found them. The conclusion was that environmental influences played a more important role in what the twins found funny than genetics.

The overall conclusion of most studies involving genetics and humor is mostly the same:

No, humor is not genetic. Instead, external factors and our upbringing primarily shape our sense of humor.

For example, suppose siblings are separated and raised away from their parents in different environments. In that case, their sense of humor or ability to laugh at the same things won’t be the same just because they’re related.

The Link Between Humor & Genetics

The link between humor and genetics.

However, there is more to be said about this topic. For example, a recent study from 2015 proved a clear link between genetics and emotions like laughter. This study tested 336 adults by showing them funny clips from movies and humorous comics.

Researchers then examined the relationship between the 5-HTTLPR gene, which is used to regulate serotonin in cases of depression, and positive emotional expressions, which they referred to as laughing and smiling.

They concluded that those with shorter versions (or alleles in scientific terms) of the 5-HTTLPR gene had a higher probability of laughing at the funny things than people with a longer version of the gene.

And even though the research has compiled evidence on how there can be a correlation between laughing and smiling behaviors and genes, we still need more similar studies before considering the results as a fact.

Can You Be Born Funny?

As you can see, the simple answer to this question is:

No, you probably can’t be born funny. While genetics play a vital role in the formation of many character traits, our sense of humor is too complex to be pinned down to one factor.

Furthermore, your sense of humor can change throughout your whole life, which is precisely why simplifying humor and basing it only on genetics isn’t all that reliable.

Here are a few important points that we need to consider:

#1 – Humor is influenced by our surroundings.

For example, when we’re young, we learn to talk and do regular activities by observing people and things around us. 

While growing up, you are exposed to jokes that people around you make and find funny. So naturally, you will pick up various behavioral signs and unintentionally develop your sense of humor based on all of that. 

It’s not a surprise that your sense of humor is based on the sense of humor of the people you grew up with, rather than strictly on the genes of your ancestors. 

Related: Why is Millennial Humor so Weird? – The Culture of Memes

#2 – Humor can be somewhat generational.

It can sometimes be hard to find 50-year-old jokes funny unless you specifically understand their reference.

It is much more common for you to laugh at things regularly discussed today, such as recent political jokes or even funny posts and memes on the internet now.

That’s why people from the same generation usually share at least a partially similar sense of humor. And this is perfectly understandable:

Since most of us are usually surrounded by people our age, we tend to develop our humor around the things that are in trend right now and that others find funny as well. 

And when it comes to genetics, here is a simple question:

Do you think your sense of humor is more similar to your parents and grandparents, or is it more similar to your friends?

Humor is generational.

#3 – Humor can change over time.

Alongside all that, as you grow up, your sense of humor will most likely change and reshape even further.

As your character and judgment develop, you can think critically and decide for yourself what you think is funny. It is all a part of the self-awareness journey.

Also, as you grow up, you have more time to be exposed to different types of humor, comedians, and forms of entertainment you have not even heard of in the past, yet they make you laugh the hardest.

At the end of the day, you can’t predict how you are going to change as a person later in life and what will be the new social influences that are more likely to transform your sense of humor.

Conclusion – Is Humor Genetic?

Unfortunately, the correlation between humor and genetics isn’t as broadly researched as other scientific notions. 

Our sense of humor is a subjective field that depends majorly on various social factors, such as the influence of your family and friends, social circle, upbringing in a particular country and culture, etc. For that reason, it doesn’t mean that you will be humorous just because your parents or grandparents are funny.

Now, we would love to hear from you:

What do you think played the most critical role in developing your sense of humor?

Please share all your thoughts in the comments down below!

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