Liberals place more value on being funny than conservatives and libertarians.

I’ve been watching a lot of comedy central lately and have been wondering why there does not appear to be a conservative equivalent, just as there is no popular liberal equivalent to conservative AM talk radio.  Perhaps liberals value being funny more than conservatives?

To test this idea, I thought I’d look at the data from the Good Self Scale from  In it, participants are asked how important it is to have various traits, and one of them happens to be “funny”.  If you look at the below graph, you’ll see that liberals do indeed place a tiny bit more value on being funny, compared to others (p<.01 comparing liberals to non-liberals).

It is important to note that this does not mean that liberals are indeed funnier, but rather that they place a value on being funny.  The results seem plausible given that the rest of the results conform to previous research (e.g. conservatives care about loyalty more and care about being more responsible).  Some observations:

  • All groups are above the midpoint (2.5) of the scale for all traits, except for libertarians and their valuation of being generous, outgoing, and sympathetic.  Instead, libertarians score high on being intellectual and logical.
  • Moderates actually score highest in terms of valuing fairness and honesty.  A very interesting finding.
  • Liberals, in addition to wanting to be funny, also want to be creative, kind, sympathetic, and almost as intellectual as libertarians.
  • Conservatives value being responsible, loyal, and honest (comparable to moderates for honesty).

In all, these are fair descriptions of these ideological groups, and given that the other relationships are reasonable, I would conclude that it’s also reasonable to say that liberals likely do place more value on being funny than other ideological groups.  Whether they succeed or not is another question.

- Ravi Iyer



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