People Who Like Dark Humor Are More Intelligent, Study Finds

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 by researchers at the Medical University of Vienna in Austria took its results from 156 adult participants, half male and half female. Each participant was asked to rate 12 dark humor cartoons from a famous German cartoonist, and share their opinions on them. That is, whether they found the jokes interesting and easy to understand, whether they found them vulgar, and so forth.

The researchers note that “humor processing is a complex information-processing task that is dependent on cognitive and emotional aspects.”

Dark humor, bright minds

Analyzing the participants on three dimensions: their intelligence level, predisposition towards black humor, and level of aggression. Researchers found that those most interested in dark 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. Meanwhile, those with a moderate level of comprehension and a low level of interest in the 12 cartoons tendedd to have average levels of intelligence, but high levels of aggressiveness.

“Black humor 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 humor processing as they lead to an increased or decreased information-processing capacity but also facilitate the adapting of humor processing strategies in a quick and flexible way as humor processing is dependent on the content and structure of a joke.”

The study is published in the journal Cognitive Processing,

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