sarcastic people

Sarcastic humour is loved by some and hated by others.

The typically British style of wit has been the topic of debate for many years, but a recent study has shown that sarcasm can reinforce sincerity in a relationship, as it is based on a certain level of honesty.

“Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit, but the highest form of intelligence.”
– Oscar Wilde

Researchers at Columbia University, Harvard University and INSEAD Business School have recently carried out a study, published in the Organizational Behaviour and Human Decision Processes Journal that has shown a link between sarcasm and creativity. The study asked participants to take part in a series of conversations, where they had been told to either act sincere or sarcastic.

The resounding result that came out of the study is that those who had sarcastic conversations performed better on a creative activity which they were asked to take part in after the discussion took place. This means that sarcasm encourages people to use abstract thinking in order to decode the hidden meaning behind the words which helps people make creative connections within their minds. That being said, the results of the study can be analysed to tell us how sarcasm can influence our intelligence in a positive way, here are the top three ways:

1. Sarcasm requires more thought

Giving a straightforward response to somebody when they make a comment can be easy and requires very little thought. But to actively create an intelligent, sarcastic comment that will be cryptic yet understood and appreciated as humour can require a great deal of thought. Some forms of sarcasm can be so subtle that people don’t even realise the intention until they think deeper into our words. So both giving and receiving sarcasm in a conversation requires more thought, which surprisingly exercises our brain.

2. Sarcasm allows the mind to expand

Those both giving and receiving sarcastic comments in the study performed up to 3 times better in the creativity tests than those who had sincere conversations. As sarcasm requires us to think more, it opens up parts of our minds that we may not use in sincere conversation, which in turn links to creativity and allows us to “think outside the box” and come up with solutions and answers that only came to us because our mind has expanded.

3. Sarcasm promotes conceptualization

Finally, the most important in terms of intelligence, rather than creativity. As mentioned earlier, sarcasm opens the door for abstract thinking, which has been linked in high intelligence in many previous studies.

Whilst this study is very interesting and adds to the research into intelligence, it has to be taken with a pinch of salt as sarcasm isn’t a form of humour that everybody understands and is comfortable with. If a person is from a different culture that doesn’t appreciate it as openly as the British or simply doesn’t understand your sarcasm, it can make that person feel uncomfortable. There is a fine line between when it should be used and when you should be sincere, learn it and use your sarcasm wisely – you never know the effects it may have on your intelligence levels.

Are you a fan of sarcasm?



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I'm a psychology student with a passion for books, good food and movies. I can often be found reading self-help articles snuggled up in bed with a cup of coffee or writing about anything and everything in a quiet cafe somewhere.