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Intelligent People Enjoy Dark Humor

In certain civilian work cultures, the freakish ability to deliver a dirty slang at any given moment would surely be treated as a sore point. However, when we talk about the military, it’ll be simply called as a mark of a well-adapted service member. And if we are to believe to a recent research study published in popular science journal Cognitive Processing, it will also be termed as a mark of higher intelligence and sense of humor.


The next time you find yourself in an awkward position of chuckling at jokes that might make your colleagues uncomfortable, consider that maybe you’re quite intelligent or even a genius. Moreover, Dark Humour can be considered as a behavioral strategy which eventually serves the dual purpose of bodily calming effects and another one by forcing the individuals to face the topics they struggle most. Isn’t that great!

Ulrike Willinger of the Medical university of Vienna conducted a research with his team, which involved 156 participants with an average age of 33 years. According to famous journalist Christian Jarret of BPS Research digest, each participant was provided with 12 Black Humour Cartoons taken from “The Black Book” by Uli Stein and asked to rate their comprehension and enjoyment respectively. Moreover, every participant was also asked to complete some “basic tests of their verbal and nonverbal IQ and was asked to answer some questions about their mood, temperament and educational qualifications.”

In their paper, Dark humor is described as “a kind of humor that treats frightening subjects like death, disease, distortion, handicap or warfare with bitter amusement and deliver such unfortunate, frightening or deplorable topics in humorous terms” Evidently, Mr. Stein’s cartoons were found pretty wretched, even by German standards. The participant’s reaction to the cartoons was carefully measured against their score on the basic tests. The results of this research were quite fascinating and somewhat amazing.

Apparently, understanding a joke requires a certain amount of mental agility, a fact proven upon realisation that the participants who understood the cartoons were later on found to be more intelligent than those who didn’t.

Surprising as it is, the real discovery was that the participants who scored highest on the verbal and nonverbal IQ tests not only understood the jokes, they also found them funny. Later on, the researchers also discovered that the participants who understood and enjoyed the cartoons, were also observed to be generally less aggressive, calmer, and more positive in their mood. In other words, it could be concluded that a person more likely to appreciate twisted, sick jokes are brighter and happier.

Meanwhile, the people at the other end of the spectrum were those with average intelligence scores as well as negative moods and highest levels of aggression. The kind of person who never laughs at  silly sarcasm might not be “above it all” as he would like everyone to believe. As it turns out, they aren’t even smart enough to understand what a joke really is – as the study’s authors write, a piece of “playful fiction”.

Before coming to any conclusion, we should always keep in mind that this is just one study, and there are many more expected in the future. Who knows? There’s always a possibility of exception in science! But as of today, guys and girls often finding themselves smiling at most inappropriate times – these experiment results are quite reassuring – “You’re not a freak”. Alongside many other, you’re a healthy, positive and clever human being. Keep in mind until next time!!

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