In one study, participants were asked to rank the humor in various cartoon captions. Half of the captions had been written by men, and half by women. When not told who wrote what, the participants judged them almost equally funny. In fact, based on the scores given in this experiment, men are just 2.2 percent more likely to be funny than women. Yet 90 percent of the participants agreed with the stereotype that men are funnier. Talk about a mind-bogglingly huge difference in perception versus reality.
And it gets weirder – when the participants were asked which gender they thought wrote a caption, the funnier ones were almost always assumed to be by men and the less funny ones by women. This might be expected, considering their stated bias. Even when told the name and gender of the person who wrote each caption, within a short time the participants started misattributing the funny ones to men. In other words, even when they knew that women had written some of the funniest captions, the bias that men are funnier was so ingrained that it made them misremember who had written what.