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The smarter your are, the darker your humour.

If you enjoy the above cartoon, you're probably intelligent. And not just because you can read German.

A new a study published in Cognitive Processing, and carried out by neurologists and psychologists at the University of Vienna.

The study of 156 adults found that people with a dark and sick sense of humour tend to be more intelligent and better educated.

It also found that fans of twisted humour were more emotionally stable and laid back.

The experiement asked participants to rate how funny they found a series of cartoons printed in The Black Book by German humourist Uli Stein.

They then participated in a series of tests of verbal and non-verbal intelligence, mood disturbance and aggressiveness.

It was found that those with high comprehension and intelligence were the ones who most enjoyed the black humour in the cartoons.

According to one of the study's authors, black humour is...

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.

Black humour, often called grotesque, morbid, gallows or sick humour, is used to express the absurdity, insensitivity, paradox and cruelty of the modern world.

Characters or situations are usually exaggerated far beyond the limits of normal satire or irony, potentially requiring increased cognitive efforts to get the joke.

Those who least enjoyed the cartoons were not necessarily the least intelligent, but those who were most aggressive.

As to why smart people prefer black humour, the study's authors suggested:

These results support the hypothesis that humour 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 humour processing.

HT Springer

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