We all have that one friend – the one whose sense of humor is darker than black. They announce that they want to share a joke and you can’t help but wonder just how morbid and grotesque the words they are about to share will be… You often try to keep them quiet in public in an attempt to avoid offending anyone or causing a scene. At the end of the day, you can’t help but wonder, what’s wrong with them to find such dark jokes funny?
Experts are now saying there is nothing wrong with them at all. In fact, a new study published in the journal ‘Cognitive Processing’ discusses the discovery of a connection between dark humor and a heightened sense of intelligence. That’s right – that dark, twisted friend may by hiding an incredibly high IQ!
What exactly is ‘dark humor’? Merriam-Webster defines ‘dark humor’ or ‘black humor’ as “humor marked by the use of usually morbid, ironic, grotesquely comic episodes.” While the Cambridge Dictionary provides the definition: “a humorous way of looking at or treating something that is serious or sad.” Basically, it is any type of humor that focuses on the more serious, sad, depressing, morbid or grotesque topics in life such as death and physical violence.
The study was conducted by a research team of the Medical University of Vienna led by Ulrike Willinger. They assembled a group of 156 people with an average age of 33, including 76 women and 80 men. Each participant was shown a series of 12 cartoons of a dark and twisted nature by the renowned German cartoonist Uli Stein and asked to rate them both on their level of comprehension and enjoyment. The participants also underwent testing for both verbal and non-verbal IQ, as well as answering questions relating to aggression levels, mood, and educational background.
This group had the highest level of appreciation for dark and twisted humor. They also scored highest in comprehension, verbal and non-verbal IQ, were generally better educated and scored lower on aggression and bad moods.
While this group still scored moderately well on comprehension, they enjoyed the dark humor the least of the three groups. They were found to have an average level of intelligence combined with high levels of aggression and negative moods.
Like group two, this group showed an average level of intelligence. They scored much lower in aggression levels and were generally found to be experiencing positive moods. When asked about the comics, they were found to have a moderate comprehension and appreciation.
In his article for ‘The British Psychological Society Research Digest’ about the study, author Christian Jarrett wrote: “This fits with past research showing that sense of humor correlates with IQ, but refutes the somewhat commonly-held belief that people who like black humor tend to be grumpy and perhaps a little prone to sadism.”
Apparently, a love of dark, twisted humor requires a good mood and a higher level of intelligence. Remember that the next time that you are trying to stifle a laugh!