Sarcasm is definitely an art that is derived from a specific type of humor.
One that focuses largely on irony, and sometimes comes off as dry as the New Mexican desert. But it also takes a specific type of person to understand and use sarcasm well. And it turns out, the same type of person that gets labelled as ‘sarcastic,’ shares another common label: intelligent.
Yes, sarcastic people can now revel in the fact that a Harvard Business School studyclaims sarcasm is the “highest form of intelligence.” What they looked at in their study was whether or not sarcasm was a higher form of cognitive functioning.
Two of their studies found that, while sarcastic people definitely caused more conflict, they also exhibited greater creativity and intelligence following a sarcastic conversation or remark.
Taking it further, a third study discovered that the enhanced creativity of sarcastic people is due to increased capacity for abstract thought, meaning these aren’t your regular old jokes, people.
During a fourth study, researchers found something quite interesting: “when participants expressed sarcasm toward or received sarcasm from a trusted other, creativity increased but conflict did not.” This means that you might not mind this clever person cracking jokes at your expense if you actually like them.
If all of this weren’t convincing enough, they also found that IQ has a lot to do with how well people are able to pick up on sarcasm. Less intelligent people struggle to detect witty and clever remarks (which is probably for the best).
The Smithsonian says that “studies have shown that exposure to sarcasm enhances creative problem solving.” They also note that “scientists who have monitored the electrical activity of the brains of test subjects exposed to sarcastic statements have found that brains have to work harder to understand sarcasm.”
So if you’re the quick-witted, sarcastic friend in your group, don’t get down when people can’t handle your sly jokes. They benefit from having you around. And if you get frustrated from time to time at your sarcastic friend, remember that they’re only stretching that witty brain of theirs, and when they do so, it makes you smarter as well!