VIENNA — Having an appreciation for dark or “black” humor doesn’t make you a disgusting human being after all, a new study finds. In fact, it actually may speak well for your overall character, despite prior studies claiming otherwise.
The surprising findings, concluded by researchers at the Medical University of Vienna in Austria and published in the journal Cognitive Processing, took its results from 156 adult participants, half male and half female. The mean participant age was 33, and participants came from a variety of backgrounds.
Each participant was asked to rate 12 black humor cartoons from a German famous cartoonist, and share what they thought about them in general: whether they found the jokes interesting and easy to understand, whether they found them vulgar, etc.
The researchers noted that “humour processing is a complex information-processing task that is dependent on cognitive and emotional aspects.”
Analyzing the participants on three dimensions— their intelligence level, predisposition towards black humor, and level of aggression— the researchers found that those most interested in black humor were also the least aggressive and most intelligent, possessing the highest levels of education.
Those with an average level of comprehension and interest in the cartoons were found to have average levels of intelligence and low mood disturbance, but be moderately aggressive.
Finally, those with a moderate level of comprehension and a low level of interest in the 12 cartoons were found to have average levels of intelligence, but high levels of aggressiveness.
“Black humour processing is seemingly a complex information-processing task that depends on cognitive and emotional aspects,” the study concludes. “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.”