Mary Louise Cowan    

Face Perception Lab
School of Natural Sciences
University of Stirling
Phone: + 44 (0) 1786 466367
Website: University of Stirling
Twitter: @MaryLouCowan



University of Stirling
PhD: The Attractiveness of Humour
MSc Psychological Research Methods
BSc Psychology (1st Class Honours)

Rathmore Grammar School


Academic Background
I left Northern Ireland and came to Stirling to study in 2005. I graduated with a BSc in Psychology with First Class Honours in Summer 2009. My honours dissertation was entitled "An Investigation into the Use of Humour in Lonely Hearts Advertisments", which I carried out under the supervision of Dr. Sarah Jane Vick. Following this, in Summer 2010, I completed the MSc in Psychological Research Methods at Stirling, which was funded by a University Studentship. My dissertation, which was entitled "An Investigation into Mate Choice: What is the Relationship between Humour, Intelligence, and Attractiveness", was supervised by Dr. Anthony Little. Following this, I decided to continue my research with Dr. Little in Stirling and have just started the third year of my PhD, which is also supervised by Dr. S. Craig Roberts and funded by a Departmental Studentship.

Every day is beautiful at the University of Stirling!

Research Interests
My primary research interest is in the evolution and attractiveness of humour. Humour is a ubiquitous part of every day interaction, which often goes unnoticed, but research suggests that our humour abilities can provide insights into our personalities and intelligence. In particular, I'm really interested in the sex differences of humour; whether it is more attractive to be a humour producer or a humour reciever, and whether humour style has a bearing on how attractive funniness is. In my PhD, I intend to learn more about how humour functions with other aspects of our personalities, how it is percieved by others, and how we use it to negotiate or dominate others.
Cowan, M. L., Cobey, K. D., Mileva, V. R., Roberts, S. C. & Little, A. C. (In Prep) Knock knock: Status is differentially associated with the intensity of a door knock.
Mileva, V. R., Cobey, K. D., Cowan, M. L. & Little, A. C. (In Prep) Bringing status into focus: Clarifying the terminology used across human social status research.

Cowan, M. L. & Little, A. C. (In Press) The attractiveness of humour types in personal advertisements: Affiliative and aggressive humour are differentially preferred in long-term versus short-term partners. Journal of Evolutionary Psychology.
Cowan, M. L. & Little, A. C. (2013) The effects of relationship context and modality on ratings of funniness. Personality and Individual Differences, 54 (4), 496-500. Cowan&Little 2013

In the Media

Science of Relationships, April 2013; Here's the punchline: The link between humor and hotness

Humber Et Cetera, March 2013; Attractive men considered funnier study says

The Huffington Post, March, 2013; The vital importance of being funny while flirting

Radio Interview on CKOM with David Kirton, March, 2013; What's more important? Physical looks or a good sense of humour?

The National Post, March, 2013: Being attractive makes you funnier (and more flirty), not the other way around
The Wall Street Journal, March, 2013: A funny thing about being attractive
The Daily Mail, March, 2013:Why being attractive makes your jokes funnier
Men's Health, News, March, 2013: Why chicks dig funny guys
British Psychology Society (BPS) Research Digest, February, 2013: Witty people considered particularly suitable for a fling.
The Psychology of Attractiveness Podcast, December, 2012: Why a good sense of humour is sometimes attractive



I have experience teaching on the following modules;

      First Year; PSY912 Introductory Psychology II (Lab Demonstrator, Marker, Lecturer, and Tutorial Leader)


      Second Year; PSY9A3 Social Communication (Marker and Tutorial Leader)


      Third Year; PSY9AO Developmental Psychology (Project Supervisor)


      I have also been a peer mentor to MSc students for the past two years.