Finally, a scientific excuse to laugh at death, disease, and natural disasters
If you’ve ever been to a funeral and cracked a joke at the guest of honor’s expense, you’re kind of a prick—but maybe a genius, too. Researchers in Vienna suggest having a dark, warped sense of humor makes you more intelligent.
In a study, scientists asked more than 150 people to rate black humor cartoons while they measured their verbal and nonverbal intelligence, as well as their mood disturbance and aggressiveness. Participants who preferred their cartoons extra-black—like a comic strip in which a doctor tells expecting parents, “Here is the good news: Your child will always find an excellent parking space”—rated higher on nonverbal and verbal intelligence, and lower in aggressiveness. (Yo, that cartoon sounds bleak. And also hilarious.)
Here’s one potential reason for the link: The researchers say it takes both cognitive and emotional skills to comprehend jokes and understand different kinds of humor. “These results support the hypothesis that humor processing involves cognitive as well as affective components, and suggest that these variables influence the execution of frame-shifting and conceptual blending in the course of humor processing,” the study authors write.
In other words, you have to flex some mental muscles to wrap your head around a joke about a handicapped baby.