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Are sarcastic people too smart to use sarcasm?

Sometimes people use sarcasm, meaning they say the opposite of what they mean (e.g., saying “I’m so happy,” when they’re actually unhappy, or “I’m a genius” when they’ve done something stupid). Regarded as the highest form of intelligence, sarcasm is an easy trait to misunderstand.

Communication experts have looked at sarcasm from a negative standpoint, particularly noting that it tends to be a maladaptive coping mechanism for those with frustration or unresolved anger issues. And yet, various research suggests that there may be some unexpected benefits from being sarcastic. Let’s explore the evidence that supports this and find out why sarcastic people are definitely smarter than you think.

Sarcastic people are more understanding

A study conducted by Dr.Sharman-Tsoony, a psychologist at the University of Haifa reveals that sarcasm requires a great deal of complex thought and interpersonal sensibility.

The study quotes,

“Sarcasm is related to our ability to understand other’s psychological state. Understanding sarcasm requires both the ability to understand listener’s belief and the ability to identify emotions.”

Sarcasm enhances creativity

A research by Harvard Business school reveals individuals exposed to sarcasm tend to perform better on creative tasks. A sarcastic comment promotes creativity through abstract thinking on both ends of the sarcastic exchanges. Psychologists believe that a sarcastic expression activates the parts of the brain linked to creative thought, in order to differentiate literal and actual meanings of sarcastic expressions.

Sarcasm improves problem-solving skills

In an article that Richard Chin wrote for Smithsonian, he explained how sarcastic people excel in solving problems creatively. For instance, college students in Israel listened to complaints about a cell phone company’s customer service line. They were able to solve problems creatively when the complaints were sarcastic as opposed to just plain angry.

They have sharper, healthier brains

Sarcasm tends to exercise the brain more than sincere statements do. And consequently, that makes a sarcastic person sharper. According to Katherine Rankin, a neurophysiologist, “the lack of ability to pick up on sarcasm can be an early warning sign of brain damage." It was found in a study that people with frontotemporal dementia had difficulty picking up on sarcasm. Interestingly enough, ‘sarcasm test’ is one of the few brain exercises that can predict dementia.

They make their friends smarter

If you are around a sarcastic friend while watching television, driving, or shopping, you must use your brain a little more to understand their thought process.

So, although dealing with constant sarcasm can be frustrating, realise that they are in a way, helping you to get smarter. On a lighter note, you might want to take a moment to thank your sarcastic friend.

Sarcasm as we know can be interpreted negatively. The main question then is, how should you harness its cognitive benefits without driving everyone around you crazy?

Studies show that, given the same content and tone, sarcasm expressed toward or received from someone we trust is less provoking than from someone we distrust or don’t know. So, practice ‘safe sarcasm’! Your best bet is to keep salty remarks limited to conversations with those you know well.

Have you ever aced an argument with a brilliant stroke of sarcasm? Share with us in the comments below

Tagged in : psychology, creativity, science, brain, sarcasm, communication,