The interaction of cartoonist's gender and formal features of cartoons

Andrea C Samson 1 , 1  and Oswald Huber 2 , 2
  • 1 University of Fribourg.
  • 2 University of Fribourg.


The present study investigates gender differences in the use of formal features of cartoons, like the amount of text, the number of panels, or the application of color. For the analysis, 300 cartoons (150 each by female and male cartoonists) were selected randomly from the works of 1519 cartoonists. Twenty-one formal features were analyzed. On average, female cartoonists use more text, include text more frequently, and also draw more panels. These differences were expected, because Differential Psychology has shown for a long time in a variety of cultures that, on average, women tend to perform better in tasks testing verbal intelligence whereas men perform significantly better in tasks that require spatial intelligence. We also found a difference in the type of joke: Women more frequently draw cartoons with incongruity-resolution humor, whereas men prefer to draw cartoons with nonsense humor. The results are discussed in relation to gender differences in humor processing and gender differences in general.

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HUMOR, the official publication of the International Society for Humor Studies (ISHS), was established over 25 years ago as an international interdisciplinary forum for the publication of high-quality research papers on humor as an important and universal human faculty. The journal publishes original contributions in areas such as interdisciplinary humor research, humor theory, and humor research methodologies.