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25th Jan 2017

People with a twisted sense of humour are more intelligent, study finds

But it's not all positive.

Rich Cooper

Do you like your humour on the darker side? Then you could be smarter than the average person.

According to a new study, people with a dark or twisted sense of humour tend to be more intelligent.

The study from the the Medical University of Vienna, published in the journal of Cognitive Processing, asked 156 participants to look at some darkly humorous cartoons.

To be specific, dark humour was defined as “a kind of humour that treats sinister subjects like death, disease, deformity, handicap or warfare with bitter amusement and presents such tragic, distressing or morbid topics in humorous terms”.


Photo: Tubey Toons


After looking at the cartoons, the participants were then asked if they a) understood the joke, b) thought it was good and c) found it surprising, vulgar or interesting.

Then the participants were given general tests to assess their intelligence and emotional stability, amongst other personal attributes.

The study found that people who found the dark humour funny scored more highly on intelligence tests.

“Black humour preference and comprehension are positively associated with higher verbal and nonverbal intelligence as well as higher levels of education,” the authors of the study said.



But, the same people scored less highly on tests for emotional stability.

As with any study like this, you have to take it with a pinch of salt – 156 people is not a great sample size, and what constitutes a good joke, dark or otherwise, is entirely subjective.

On the other hand, if your friends don’t share your dark sense of humour, they probably won’t be smart enough to know what a ‘sample size’ is, so you’ll be alright.