Is Dark Humor Sign of Superior Intelligence?

Dark humor cover

Do you find it hilarious when someone cracks a twisted joke? Are you the type of person who gives priority to sarcasm? Do these jokes make you laugh hysterically? Even though such jokes, contain violent and taboo topics, you seem to love them? Well, you might be a highly intelligent individual with a broken sense of humor. Says who? Says science.

What is Dark Humor?

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An example of suicidal dark humor.

Dark or Black humor is defined as humor that targets taboo topics such as death, disease, or any other form of the condition which is usually seen as negative and never to be joked about. Not only that but it is also used to express the harsh reality or situation and even a person’s negative trait, especially celebrities with exaggeration.

The science behind Dark Humor

Dark joke

An example of twisted humor based on a disorder.

Now that we know what dark humor is, let’s see if intelligence is really behind it.

Processing of Dark Humor

  • To be able to even have a decent conversation we rely upon our cognitive functions, as it allows us to listen and decipher what is being said to us process it and match it with our prior experiences and form a response. It is the same process in decoding the black humor. Higher intelligence is required in order to understand the sick joke and the funny meaning hidden behind its absurdity.
  • Another important thing to keep in mind is that the appreciation of any humor requires emotions. If a person happens to be overall cheerful and positive in nature, they might not appreciate the morbid comedy. While a person who is overall negative in their thoughts tends to enjoy such jokes.

Scientific Evidence

A study conducted in Austria had participants from various walkways of life with a big variation in their educational backgrounds and job experiences. All of them were shown dark-humored cartoons and then were observed how they reacted and performed in other intelligence and anger tests. Scientists then separated them into three different groups based on the results.

  • Moderate Appreciation: These were the ones who moderately enjoyed the cartoons. This group had average levels of verbal and non-verbal intelligence. Also, they were moderate in their anger level.
  • Less Appreciation: This group enjoyed such comics the least and some were having trouble comprehending the twisted sense of humor. They showed average intelligence as well, however, their levels of anger were significantly higher.
  • High Appreciation: The final group was seen as comfortably enjoying the cartoons. These turned out to have a higher level of verbal and non-verbal intelligence. Surprisingly, they had the least amount of aggression or bad behavior compared to the other two groups.

It is funny and paradoxical that the group who appreciated gallow humor the most turned out to be the least angry people and the ones who least liked it were the most aggressive. But more importantly, understanding the comedy among the disasters requires a superior way of thinking. Hence, the scientists claim that people who enjoy such humor are more intelligent.


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