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Being funny may be hardwired. The secret to making people laugh may be in having an unusual personality structure and high levels of psychotic personality traits,
For the study, comedians from Australia, Britain and the United States were studied. They scored higher on four types of psychotic characteristics compared to a control group of people with non-creative jobs. Traits included a tendency toward anti-social behavior and a tendency to avoid intimacy. “The creative elements needed to produce humor are strikingly similar to those characterizing the cognitive style of people with psychosis – both schizophrenia and biopolar disorder,” explained Gordon Claridge of the University of Oxford’s department of experimental psychology, who led the study.
These traits could also be described as moody, socially introverted or having a tendency toward lateral thinking. “Although schizophrenic psychosis itself can be detrimental to humor, in its lesser form it can increase people’s ability to associate odd or unusual tings or to think ‘outside the box’,” Claridge continued. “Equally, manic thinking – which is common in people with bipolar disorder – may help people combine ideas to form new, original and humorous connections.”
Traits scored were “unusual experiences” like belief in telepathy and paranormal events, “cognitive disorganization” such as difficulty in focusing, “introvertive anhedonia” which is the inability to feel social and physical pleasure, and “impulsive non-conformity” or a tendency toward antisocial behavior. Researchers found that the 523 comedians who answered the survey were significantly higher on all four types of psychotic personality traits when compared to 831 actors in the control group. Most striking was their high score for non-conformity and introverted personality traits.
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