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Is humour a sign of intelligence?


Is humour a sign of intelligence?


A joke, in psychological terms, is an ‘incongruity that is recognised and resolved in some way.’ There are different types of humour, some we appreciate more than others. Once you start analysing the conceptual nature of humour, you begin to realise that it works very much in the same way that intelligence operates.

The mental process involved in humour has been described by scientists and biologists as similar to the thought process needed for problem-solving. In 2008,  a journal titled Evolutionary Psychology was published. The journal examined humour as “as a mental fitness indicator.” 

In 2010, researchers at the University of New Mexico gathered 400 university students and tested them on abstract reasoning, verbal intelligence, humour production ability, and mating success. The results showed that both general and verbal intelligence predict humour production ability. IQ relates positively to comprehension therefore people that recognise jokes as complex, appreciate them more. 

Most jokes lead you down one path, so when what you expect to happen doesn’t (plot-twist) then that is what makes jokes funny. Your brain weighs up all possible outcomes when the joke is being told. This process has an emotional pay-off. Psychological expectancies are linked with the brain mechanisms of reward.  

Funny people also manifest greater creativity. Satire demands a greater degree of intelligence. It calls for more smarts and open-mindedness to enjoy and fully appreciate the underlying elements within it. Funny people also have impressive reasoning ability and verbal skills. Last of all, they tend to make friends more easily. 

If you’re not funny though, it doesn’t mean you are not smart. Don’t fret. A sense of humour is is just one trait among many that can signal above-average smarts.


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