Ask a group of people to describe eHarmony and they would probably paint a similar picture. It’s respected, trusted, and scientific – a service rooted in strong values with a focus on long-term relationships over quickie weekend flings.
In other words, in a sea of swipes, eHarmony is a dating service that takes love seriously. It doesn’t have the built-in emoji of Grindr or the Spotify integration of Tinder, but for the single who’s ready to settle down, it’s a no-nonsense and effective option.
It may come as a surprise, then, to hear that eHarmony’s famously serious service is looking into something decidedly un-serious: humor.
Company Grant Langston recently spoke to CNBC about the importance of laughter in finding the perfect partner.
“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,” said Langston. “That is something that would be, in my view, groundbreaking and very cool – if we could determine who is a good attraction candidate for you based on sense of humor.”
eHarmony is currently conducting studies in hopes of discovering exactly how humor plays into our choice of mate. Participants are asked to view a series of short videos or images, and rate them on how funny they think they are. They are then assigned a type of humor:
Physical: physical acts, including scaring others, pranks, or falling
Self-deprecating: a style in which 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: a style in which 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 the next phase of experimentation, participants meet in person at speed dating events. They rate the other attendees on attractiveness, how funny they are, and whether they’d be interested in seeing them again.
“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,'” explained Langston.
Unsurprisingly, initial findings show that having a shared sense of humor is indeed an important component of attraction. Women who appreciate “wit-word play” and “self-deprecating” humor are most likely to earn a second date from men, while men who appreciate “improvisational humor” are most likely to earn a second date from women.
A shared level of appreciation for “surreal humor,” “dark humor” or “observational humor” is so far closely correlated with a successful first date, but overall it’s couples in which women score high on “physical humor” that are most likely to want to meet again.