Your Friends With Twisted, Dark Humor Are Probably Smarter Than You
Jack Nicholson as The Joker in 1989's 'Batman' (Warner Bros./Courtesy Everett Collection)
Your Friends With Twisted, Dark Humor Are Probably Smarter Than You
Jack Nicholson as The Joker in 1989’s ‘Batman’ (Warner Bros./Courtesy Everett Collection)


You know that guy. The one that always tells twisted, off-color jokes at dinner parties and makes everyone squirm. You could say that he has a dark sense of humor. Researchers from Austria’s Medical University of Vienna wanted to see if there was any method to that guy’s apparent madness. What they published in the journal Cognitive Processing might surprise you.

First, the study defines dark humor as that which “treats sinister subjects like death, disease, deformity, handicap, or warfare with bitter amusement.” Sounds about right, right? For the study, 156 adults (76 women and 80 men) were asked to rate darkly humorous cartoons, and measured for their “verbal and nonverbal intelligence, mood disturbance, and aggressiveness.”

An example of one of the cartoons?

“[One] cartoon showed the suicide of a husband who hanged himself with a green tie and is found by his wife and her friend. Finding her husband dangling from the ceiling, the wife is supposed to have feelings like shock, sadness or desperation. However, the elements of the tragic suicide of the husband are blended with the elements of the stereotypical complaining of a wife about her husband’s taste for clothing (‘And once again the green tie with the blue suit. Come on, what have I been nagging him about for all these years?'”

The researchers concluded that those that preferred the twisted cartoons (like the one above) had the highest level of comprehension; topped out in verbal and nonverbal intelligence; and were particularly laid-back individuals, who showed low signs of aggression. It also turned out that they were more likely to have higher levels of education.

So basically what that means is that guy a the dinner party is likely smarter than you, savvier than you, and may enjoy meditating. (Or is the next Patrick Bateman.)

Read the full study here.

—RealClearLife Staff