Think you’re funny? ChatGPT might be funnier, study finds

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A recent study suggests that artificial intelligence, specifically ChatGPT, might be better at telling jokes than humans.

Researchers compared jokes written by people to those generated by ChatGPT 3.5, and the results were surprising.

According to the study published on July 3 in the journal PLOS ONE, ChatGPT’s jokes were rated funnier by a significant margin.

Comparing Jokes

Drew Gorenz, a doctoral candidate in social psychology at USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, led the study. He explained that they wanted to see if AI could outwit humans in humor.

“Since ChatGPT can’t feel emotions itself but tells novel jokes better than the average human, these studies show that you don’t need to feel the emotions of appreciating a good joke to tell a really good one,” Gorenz said.

In one part of the study, participants were asked to rate the funniness of jokes without knowing who wrote them.

About 70% of participants found ChatGPT’s jokes funnier than those written by humans.

Around 25% preferred the human-crafted jokes, and only 5% thought jokes from both sources were equally funny. These results were consistent across different demographic groups.

ChatGPT vs. Professional Comedy Writers

To further test ChatGPT’s humor skills, researchers asked it to create headlines in the style of The Onion, a well-known satirical news site.

Another group of 200 participants rated the funniness of these AI-generated headlines and original Onion headlines. Participants found ChatGPT’s headlines just as funny as the originals.

In the first study, both ChatGPT and 105 participants were given three tasks.

They had to create funny new phrases for common acronyms, come up with humorous answers to fill-in-the-blank phrases like “A lesser known room in the White House: _____,” and write roast jokes based on awkward scenarios. This resulted in over 945 jokes from human writers and 180 from ChatGPT. A new group of participants then rated the funniness of these jokes.

In the second study, ChatGPT was fed original Onion headlines and asked to generate new ones. Participants then rated these headlines without knowing their authorship.

Gorenz, an amateur stand-up comedian, was inspired by ongoing debates in the entertainment industry about the use of AI in writing. Recent Hollywood strikes have highlighted concerns among writers and actors that AI could threaten their jobs and creativity.

Gorenz and his co-author, Norbert Schwarz, a professor of psychology and marketing at USC, believe the study’s findings raise important questions. While AI-generated humor could enhance everyday communication for most people, it poses a potential threat to professional comedy writers.

“LLMs can pose a serious employment threat,” noted Schwarz. Whether AI gets the last laugh remains to be seen, but for now, it appears that ChatGPT is giving human comedians a run for their money.