What makes you laugh may be far more important than people may realize when it comes to finding the perfect partner, said eHarmony CEO Grant Langston.
EHarmony has long positioned its marketplace as a forum for finding a life partner, eschewing the quick swiping popularized by Tinder, which is owned by Barry Diller’s IAC.
Instead, eHarmony collects a ton of data from its 10 million monthly active users to feed its matching algorithms. EHarmony’s users rank humor as highly as things like loyalty, kindness and affection.
“Everybody says sense of humor is the number two or three thing they want in a partner and yet no one knows what that means — no one’s ever matched on it,” Langston told CNBC. Lately, the company is conducting research to find out how that plays into comparability.
“That is something that would be, in my view, groundbreaking and very cool,” he said. “If we could determine who is a good attraction candidate for you based on sense of humor.”
Research participants watch 30 half minute videos and look at images, rating them on how funny they think they are, and are assigned a type of humor.
“Since we know everyone’s humor type, we are able to see if people who have similar senses of humor are more likely to be attracted to each other and if so, how much similarity is necessary,'” said Langston.
EHarmony ranks types of humor according to the following guidelines:
Physical: Physical acts, including scaring others, pranks, or falling
Self-deprecating: A style where an individual makes fun of themselves and their short-comings for the enjoyment of others.
Surreal: predicated on deliberate violations of causal reasoning, producing events and behaviors that are obviously illogical.
Improvisational: where there is no planned course of action.
Wit-word play: includes puns, emphasis on unexpected meanings and usage of certain words.
Topical: pertaining to current events, often satirical
Observational finding: the humor in everyday situations.
Bodily: Includes toilet humor, involving bodily functions, as well as humor that is sexual in nature.
Dark: Making light of people and subjects that are generally considered serious or taboo.
In February, the company began holding speed dating events — the first in Los Angeles and Sydney — for participants to meet in person. Each person then rated the people they met on attractiveness, how funny they were and whether they wanted to see them again.
Initial findings showed that having a shared sense of humor is indeed important. Here is what eHarmony told CNBC it found from those first two events.
Women who appreciated “wit-word play” and “self-deprecating” humor were most likely to score a second date from men. However, women who scored high on an appreciation for “surreal” and “topical” humor did not do as well.
Men who appreciated “improvisational humor” were most likely to score a second date from women. Men who appreciated “observational” and “surreal” humor were less successful.
Though scoring high on an appreciation of “surreal humor,” it did not make people more attractive. Still, having a shared level of appreciation for “surreal humor,” “dark humor” or “observational humor” was correlated closely with a successful first date.
Couples where the women scored high on “physical humor” were most likely to want to meet up again, but couples where the male scored high on “physical humor” were least likely.