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Intelligent People Enjoy Dark Humor

In certain civilian work cultures, the freakish ability to use a dirty slang word 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 man who’s comfortable with the environment he’s in. And if we are to believe recent research data found in the acclaimed science journal Cognitive Processing, it will also be termed as a sign of increased cognitive capabilities 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 that 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, who works for the Medical University of Vienna, conducted research with his team. 156 people, most of them around the age of 33, were asked several different questions. As the renowned journalist Christian Jarret, who works for BPS Research digest, claimed, the participants were examined on Uli Stein’s The Black Book by using 12 of the book’s Black Humour Cartoons. Moreover, every participant was also asked to complete some usual tests about both their oral and nonverbal IQ, while they also revealed information about their mental characteristics.  

In their paper, dark humor is described as a way of presenting terrifying and disturbing events in such a way that they sound humorous. Evidently, Mr. Stein’s cartoons were found pretty wretched, even by Germans, who are known for their unusual sense of humor at times. The participant’s reaction to the cartoons was carefully measured against their score on the tests mentioned before. The results of this research were quite fascinating and somewhat amazing.

Apparently, understanding a joke’s context relies on a certain amount of cognitive skills, a fact proven upon the realisation that the participants who comprehended the jokes’ context were later flagged as more clever than those who couldn’t understand what the cartoon’s context implied. 

Surprising as it is, the real discovery was that the participants who did better on the said IQ tests not only spotted the joke, but they also laughed with it. Later on, the researchers also discovered that the participants who understood and laughed with the cartoons were also observed to be less hostile, calmer, and more optimistic in general. In plain English, it could be concluded that a person more likely to enjoy twisted, sick jokes is brighter and happier.

Meanwhile, the people who found dark humor to be disturbing and improper 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 an exception in science! But as of today, guys and girls often finding themselves smiling at the weirdest of times- these experimental results are quite reassuring – “You’re not a weirdo”. Alongside many other, you’re a healthy, optimistic and clever human being. Keep that in mind until the next time!!

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