Time and time again, I have found myself apologizing for my dark sense of humor. And while the horrified faces surrounding me each time I crack one of my strangely dark jokes, I will no longer apologize after finding out the following.

In a recent study carried out by the Medical University of Vienna, dark humor is defined as ‘a kind of humor 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…used to express the absurdity, insensitivity, paradox and cruelty of the modern world.’ While that’s not something everyone is into, a lot of people are whether you find that to be surprising or not. Dark humor, in general, is something a lot of people find to be quite funny.

If you find that this sort of humor resonates with you, then I have good news. According to the researchers, this particular sense of humor is not only a mark of high intelligence, but it also means that the person who enjoys this humor is of high emotional intelligence. Yes, you could very well be a bit above the rest if you find the more morbid jokes well worth a laugh.

Published in the Journal of Cognitive Processing, the authors state the following, ‘Black humor preference and comprehension are positively associated with higher verbal and nonverbal intelligence as well as higher levels of education.’ This meaning also that people who are educated on a higher level tend to prefer dark humor or as they call it ‘black humor.’ That for many was quite unexpected but does make sense as those who are more educated tend to be more capable of seeing things in different ways.

Asking 156 participants to rate dark humor cartoons on a scale of surprising, vulgar or interesting. Then they tested their personalities. Those that enjoyed the dark humor were found to be more intelligent, both verbally and nonverbally. And they also tested less highly for emotional instability and aggressiveness.

The abstract of this study goes as follows:

Humour processing is a complex information-processing task that is dependent on cognitive and emotional aspects which presumably influence frame-shifting and conceptual blending, mental operations that underlie humour processing. The aim of the current study was to find distinctive groups of subjects with respect to black humour processing, intellectual capacities, mood disturbance and aggressiveness. A total of 156 adults rated black humour cartoons and conducted measurements of verbal and nonverbal intelligence, mood disturbance and aggressiveness. Cluster analysis yields three groups comprising following properties: (1) moderate black humour preference and moderate comprehension; average nonverbal and verbal intelligence; low mood disturbance and moderate aggressiveness; (2) low black humour preference and moderate comprehension; average nonverbal and verbal intelligence, high mood disturbance and high aggressiveness; and (3) high black humour preference and high comprehension; high nonverbal and verbal intelligence; no mood disturbance and low aggressiveness. Age and gender do not differ significantly, differences in education level can be found. Black humour preference and comprehension are positively associated with higher verbal and nonverbal intelligence as well as higher levels of education. Emotional instability and higher aggressiveness apparently lead to decreased levels of pleasure when dealing with black humour. 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.

What do you think about these findings? Do you believe them to be accurate or is dark humor, not your think despite your overall high intelligence level? Personally, I think that we can all be smart whether we like dark humor or not but this does raise some questions. For more on this topic feel free to check out the video below.

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