Science Proves Funny People Are More Intelligent

Science Proves Funny People Are More Intelligent

Do you consider yourself as funny? If you answered yes, that’s funny because you’re probably not funny. If you answered no, oh boy, are you funny!

Albert Einstein was also a funny man. Apparently, he was popular with the ladies. Who would have thought? He once quipped, “Any man who can drive safely while kissing a pretty girl is simply not giving the kiss the attention it deserves.”

Stephen Hawking is another brilliant, intelligent scientist who is also known for his sharp sense of humor. Coincidence? Probably not! It’s more likely that funny people are just plain smarter.

Why funny people are smarter

According to researchers Gil Greengross and Geoffrey Miller, both from the University of New Mexico, and Rod A. Martin from the University of Western Ontario, humor is a sign of underlying cognitive ability and fitness. This assertion was confirmed by an interesting study the trio did involving college students.


The researchers asked a group of college students to perform a humorous task by creating made-up profiles of people based on some basic information. The students then rated how funny the other study participant’s answers were, and then all participants were asked to complete tests of general intelligence, conscientiousness, openness, extraversion, sociability and neuroticism.

The study revealed that general intelligence was a strong predictor of humor, independent of the other variables. The funny guys and girls, those with a great sense of humor, tended to have better cognitive ability and more smarts.

Here’re more reasons why science says funny people are smarter:

1. They have higher IQ

A study published in the 1970s looked at 55 male and 14 female comedians and found that they consistently scored significantly higher on IQ tests than the average population.


Whereas the average IQ score in the general population is between 90 and 110, male comedians were found to score on average 138 and female comedians scored on average 126.

Need we say more?

2. They manifest greater creativity

People like Trevor Noah, Ellen DeGeneres and Amy Schumer who are funny in many different ways, are particularly gifted at satire. And satire demands a greater degree of intelligence to not only pull off, but also to appreciate. For example, it is not without good reasons that Amy Schumer’s parody sketch 12 Angry Men Inside Amy Schumer was voted one of the funniest sketches on television for a full year.

Schumer’s parody obviously required lots of creative ingenuity to write. But, it also calls for even more smarts and open-mindedness to enjoy and fully appreciate the underlying elements within it, such as the subtle jabs at the gender disparity prevalent in Hollywood.


William E. Hauck and John W. Thomas of Bucknell University conducted a research to study three variables: Creativity, intelligence, and a sense of humor. They found that while creativity and intelligence were independent of each other, humor related to both creativity and intelligence.

3. They have impressive reasoning ability and verbal skills

In a 2011 study, researchers at the University of New Mexico asked 400 psychology students to complete measures of abstract reasoning ability and verbal intelligence before writing captions for a series of New Yorker cartoons.

It emerged that the captions that were rated funnier were produced by the students who scored higher on tests of cognitive ability. Actually, students who specifically scored high on the test of verbal intelligence were found to be most likely to produce funny captions.

A follow up study out of the same university used a group of comedians to complete a similar procedure. Results showed that comedians not only produced more and funnier caption ideas than the students had, but also scored higher on the test of verbal intelligence.


Verbal intelligence is generally linked with overall intelligence.

4. They make new friends more easily

You must have noticed at some point that people who are openly funny tend to have more friends and make new ones relatively easily.

Maybe it’s because of their verbal intelligence, but people seem drawn to the funny types. So much so that the aforementioned University of New Mexico study of college students also found that the funnier students reported having had more sexual partners than their duller peers.

Of course, if you don’t have a knack for cracking people up, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re not intelligent – or that you’ll never attract a romantic partner. A good sense of humor is just one of many traits that signal above average intelligence.


Besides, if you are someone who rather appreciates humor more when others are the source of the funny instead of being the originator, that’s also a sign that you may have above-average intelligence.

More by this author

David K. William

David is a publisher and entrepreneur who tries to help professionals grow their business and careers, and gives advice for entrepreneurs.

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Overcoming The Pain Of A Breakup: 3 Suggestions Based On Science

Overcoming The Pain Of A Breakup: 3 Suggestions Based On Science

We thought that the expression ‘broken heart’ was just a metaphor, but science is telling us that it is not: breakups and rejections do cause physical pain. When a group of psychologists asked research participants to look at images of their ex-partners who broke up with them, researchers found that the same brain areas that are activated by physical pain are also activated by looking at images of ex-partners. Looking at images of our ex is a painful experience, literally.[1].

Given that the effect of rejections and breakups is the same as the effect of physical pain, scientists have speculated on whether the practices that reduce physical pain could be used to reduce the emotional pain that follows from breakups and rejections. In a study on whether painkillers reduce the emotional pain caused by a breakup, researchers found that painkillers did help. Individuals who took painkillers were better able to deal with their breakup. Tamar Cohen wrote that “A simple dose of paracetamol could help ease the pain of a broken heart.”[2]


Just like painkillers can be used to ease the pain of a broken heart, other practices that ease physical pain can also be used to ease the pain of rejections and breakups. Three of these scientifically validated practices are presented in this article.

Looking at images of loved ones

While images of ex-partners stimulate the pain neuro-circuitry in our brain, images of loved ones activate a different circuitry. Looking at images of people who care about us increases the release of oxytocin in our body. Oxytocin, or the “cuddle hormone,” is the hormone that our body relies on to induce in us a soothing feeling of tranquility, even when we are under high stress and pain.


In fact, oxytocin was found to have a crucial role as a mother is giving birth to her baby. Despite the extreme pain that a mother has to endure during delivery, the high level of oxytocin secreted by her body transforms pain into pleasure. Mariem Melainine notes that, “Oxytocin levels are usually at their peak during delivery, which promotes a sense of euphoria in the mother and helps her develop a stronger bond with her baby.”[3]

Whenever you feel tempted to look at images of your ex-partner, log into your Facebook page and start browsing images of your loved ones. As Eva Ritvo, M.D. notes, “Facebook fools our brain into believing that loved ones surround us, which historically was essential to our survival. The human brain, because it evolved thousands of years before photography, fails on many levels to recognize the difference between pictures and people”[4]



Endorphins are neurotransmitters that reduce our perception of pain. When our body is high on endorphins, painful sensations are kept outside of conscious awareness. It was found that exercise causes endorphins to be secreted in the brain and as a result produce a feeling of power, as psychologist Alex Korb noted in his book: “Exercise causes your brain to release endorphins, neurotransmitters that act on your neurons like opiates (such as morphine or Vicodin) by sending a neural signal to reduce pain and provide anxiety relief.”[5] By inhibiting pain from being transmitted to our brain, exercise acts as a powerful antidote to the pain caused by rejections and breakups.


Jon Kabat Zinn, a doctor who pioneered the use of mindfulness meditation therapy for patients with chronic pain, has argued that it is not pain itself that is harmful to our mental health, rather, it is the way we react to pain. When we react to pain with irritation, frustration, and self-pity, more pain is generated, and we enter a never ending spiral of painful thoughts and sensations.


In order to disrupt the domino effect caused by reacting to pain with pain, Kabat Zinn and other proponents of mindfulness meditation therapy have suggested reacting to pain through nonjudgmental contemplation and acceptance. By practicing meditation on a daily basis and getting used to the habit of paying attention to the sensations generated by our body (including the painful ones and by observing these sensations nonjudgmentally and with compassion) our brain develops the habit of reacting to pain with grace and patience.

When you find yourself thinking about a recent breakup or a recent rejection, close your eyes and pay attention to the sensations produced by your body. Take deep breaths and as you are feeling the sensations produced by your body, distance yourself from them, and observe them without judgment and with compassion. If your brain starts wandering and gets distracted, gently bring back your compassionate nonjudgmental attention to your body. Try to do this exercise for one minute and gradually increase its duration.


With consistent practice, nonjudgmental acceptance will become our default reaction to breakups, rejections, and other disappointments that we experience in life. Every rejection and every breakup teaches us great lessons about relationships and about ourselves.

Featured photo credit: condesign via


[1] US National Library of Medicine: Social rejection shares somatosensory representations with physical pain
[2] Daily Mail: Nursing a broken heart? How taking a paracetamol could dull the pain of rejection
[3] Mother For Life: Oxytocin’s Role
[4] Psychology Today: Facebook and Your Brain
[5] Alex Korb: The Upward Spiral

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