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Study Reveals People With Dark Humour Have Higher IQs

Charisa Bossinakis

| Last updated 

Study Reveals People With Dark Humour Have Higher IQs

Researchers have found evidence to support a correlation between dark humour and one's intelligence.

According to a study published in the journal Cognitive Process, people who like humour that is on the darker side could have higher IQs.

The project, led by Ulrike Willinger at the Medical University of Vienna, studied 156 people.

There was a mixture of both men and women, from diverse educational backgrounds and the average age of the participants was 33.

They were all given an IQ test with both verbal and non-verbal reasoning questions. They also received questions asking them to rate their mood and aggression levels.

Credit: Alamy
Credit: Alamy

After the IQ test, they were asked to analyse 12 bleak and satirical cartoons by German cartoonist Uli Stein. Participants had to rate their comprehension and their enjoyment of each comic.

For example, one of the images contained two people at a morgue, with one being a physician lifting a sheet covering a body.

The woman standing next to him confirms: “Sure, that’s my husband – anyway, which washing powder did you use to get that so white?”

The study found that those who appreciated and understood the jokes received high verbal and non-verbal IQ test results. It also showed that they were better educated and scored lower for their aggression and bad mood.

The research report read: “The most surprising result is that subjects who show the highest values with respect to black humour preference and comprehension show high values with respect to intelligence, have higher education levels and show lowest values regarding mood disturbance and aggression.”

Those who didn’t like or understand the bleak cartoons showed lower scores on their IQ tests and higher aggression levels and are more likely to be susceptible to bad moods.

Credit: Alamy
Credit: Alamy

Participants who demonstrated average comprehension of Stein’s cartoons also displayed average test scores but generally a positive mood and average aggression levels. 

Willinger’s ‘complex information-processing task’ also supported that though dark humour may be associated with negative or violent tendencies, those with an affinity for it were less likely to exhibit such behaviours. 

The report added: “Given the results of the current study, it can be hypothesized that in adulthood intelligence still strongly influences this two-stage problem-solving process with respect to humour processing.

"In this study, it could also be shown that the subjects who were most likely to comprehend and prefer black humour also have higher education levels.”

So the next time you burst into uncontrollable laughter during an ‘inappropriate’ situation, don’t sweat it! You may very well be a Bill Gates or in the making.

Featured Image Credit: Alamy/BBC Three

Topics: Good News, News, Science

Charisa Bossinakis
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