Are you a fan of dark humor? If so, research has shown that you might be more intelligent on average, and less aggressive as well. According to a 2017 study published in the journal Cognitive Processing, people who enjoy dark humor are more likely to be intelligent, and also less likely to be aggressive.
The experiments took place at the Medical University of Vienna, and involved 156 people from a wide range of different social and educational backgrounds who varied in age, but had an average age of 33. The participants were given a set of intelligence tests, and then monitored while being exposed to cartoons that contained what many would consider dark humor (or black humour, as it is known in the UK, where the study was conducted).
The researchers should not have been very surprised to see the connection between dark humor and intelligence, as other studies in the past have shown that people with high levels of intelligence are more likely to suffer from conditions like depression or anxiety. However, it likely did come as a surprise that the intelligent dark humor fans in the study were actually less prone to aggression than the test subjects who were upset or offended by the material.
The study showed that the people who were most upset by the jokes had average IQ scores, but they were also more prone to aggression in other scenarios as well, and likely had shorter tempers than the other participants in the study.
The authors of the study concluded that:
“Whilst a positive association between black humour processing and intelligence can be shown, aggressiveness and bad mood apparently lead to decreased levels of pleasure when dealing with black humour. Black humour processing is seemingly a complex information-processing task that depends on cognitive and emotional aspects. It can be hypothesized that these cognitive and emotional demands directly influence the mental operations underlying humour processing as they lead to an increased or decreased information-processing capacity but also facilitate the adapting of humour processing strategies in a quick and flexible way as humour processing is dependent on the content and structure of a joke.”
The researchers also noted that differences in things like age and gender did not seem to have any impact on how a participant felt about dark humor, as there was a range of different responses among people of the same background, and many shared responses among those from different backgrounds, although, the study did suggest that levels of education did seem to have an impact on a person’s response to dark humor.
Image credit: Volodymyr Melnyk