Dark humor, black comedy, morbid humor, whatever you prefer to call it, refers to making light of a serious or taboo subject (Wikipedia, 2017). Dark humor much like regular humor has a lot of positive effects, it can reduce stress, improve your mood, lower your blood pressure, and improve your oxygen consumption due to laughing. This is all because of its effect on the endocrine system as it reduces cortisol an epinephrine. All in all humor helps regulate stress hormones, this is why often times people laugh in high anxiety high stress situations, for example a funeral.
The only main difference between humor and dark humor is a matter of perception. Those who make or laugh at a dark joke are often subjected to harsh judgment for even thinking or finding humor in such a touchy subject. Dark humor has some unique aspects that differ from regular humor as it can be used as a coping mechanism and has psychological benefits as well as it an be a precursor for higher levels of intelligence.
Dark humor is actually very effective in long term stress reduction as it can be used as a cognitive behavioral strategy (FoxyWinePocket, 2017). This is often used by individuals who have gone through a traumatic experience, as it allows them to talk about a fearful topic in a playful, less intimidating way as well as providing the benefits humor offers.
Suggesting that those who understand and can appreciate dark humor is a pretty good indication of higher cognitive ability, according to Ulrike Willinger who created a study with 156 participants all ranging around the age of 33 an student at the University of Vienna (Jarret, 2017). Willinger had each participant take a verbal and non verbal IQ test, and then after ha shown the participants 12 dark jokes which they had to rate on levels of comprehension and enjoyment, basically whether or not they found the joke funny or not.
Willinger found that the participants with the highest scores on the verbal and non verbal IQ tests were able to understand all 12 jokes, and actually even found them funny. This is due to a higher level of intelligence needed to understand the joke in order to find it funny.
Willinger also found that these participants were less aggressive, more calm, and generally more positive. This would be due to the psychological benefits an stress reducing capabilities of humor as well as the use of dark humor as a coping mechanism that allows such a positive outcome on individuals that can appreciate a dark joke.
~ What’s the best part of a dead baby joke?
They never get old… ~
So the next time you feel awful for laughing at a dead baby joke, take comfort in the fat that you can only laugh because you’re just so smart!
Adam Linehan (2017). Science: A Dark Sense of Humor is a Mark of Higher Intelligence. Retrieved form http://taskandpurpose.com/science-a-dark-sense-of-humor-is-a-mark-of-higher-intelligence/
Christian Jarret (2017). If You Like Sick Jokes, Maybe It’s Because You’re Just so Smart. Research Digest. Retrieved from https://digest.bps.org.uk/2017/01/18/if-you-like-sick-jokes-maybe-its-because-youre-just-so-smart/
FoxyWinePocket (2017). It’s Goo to be Bad: The Psychological Benefit of Dark Humor. Retrieved form http://www.foxywinepocket.com/2014/07/10/darkhumor/