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Is There Any Link Between Humor And Intelligence?

Is There Any Link Between Humor And Intelligence?

We all have that one friend – the one who has such a quick wit, the one with a snappy hilarious comeback, the one who can have a room laughing with their one-liners and jokes. They are fun to be around and would definitely be thought of as an extrovert. But highly intelligent? Most of us haven’t thought about that. Researchers have, however. And the results of their research might surprise you.

Early Research Says Yes

Before researchers ever began to look at any relationship between humor and intelligence, many educational psychologists and sociologists had already identified what came to be known as emotional and social intelligence. They continue to believe that people with a good sense of humor are extroverted and able to function in society more successfully.

In the 1970’s, William Hauck and John Thomas, two researchers at Bucknell University, tested 80 elementary children to determine any correlation between intelligence and humor and creativity. Their results showed a .89 correlation between intelligence and creativity and a .91 correlation between intelligence and humor. For readers who have never had a statistics course, there is a very high correlation.

Most can easily accept the correlation between humor and creativity, but may find the one between humor and intelligence a bit harder to digest. Fortunately, more research followed this early study.

Research in the 90’s is Supportive

During the 90’s, there was a growth in research of the two hemispheres of the brain. This research determined that the left hemisphere was where the verbal, logical, linear thinking occurred, and the right hemisphere is more responsible for visual, artistic, creative, and problem-solving abilities.

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Taking this information, biologist Michael Johnson conducted and then published his study on the correlation between perceptual and motor skills and the ability to understand and produce humor. Participants in this study were asked to rate the “funniness” of 32 jokes and then solve 14 visual manipulation problems. His results showed a correlation between those who did well on the problems and were able to understand the humor in the jokes.

Another researcher, Daniel Holt, studied the correlation between humor and giftedness in school-aged children. He concluded that gifted students have several common characteristics, one of those being an “an advanced sense of humor.”

Still more research found that, among 185 college-aged students, those with higher intelligence were able to rate humor better and to produce humor, by way of creating captions to cartoons. Another correlation was found between humor and extraversion.

Into the 2000’s – More Confirmation

Research has continued into this century, and all of it seems to support all of the earlier research.

In 2010, University of New Mexico researchers conducted studies with 400 students, equally divided by gender. They were tested for verbal intelligence, abstract reasoning and their ability to produce humor, again by writing captions to three cartoons. Again, high scores on intelligence tests correlated with abilities to recognize and produce humor.

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Other studies with college students also support the findings of the University of Mexico study.

Neuroscience Enters the Picture

In 2009, Alastair Clarke published a book, the Pattern Recognition Theory of Humour. Without going into all of the terminology and scientific context, in general, Clarke said that we come to understand our world and our language by establishing and understanding patterns. Patterns in language allow us to understand and appreciate humor in more sophisticated ways as we develop. As well, the amount of understanding differs with individuals, thus some are more adept at both comprehending humor and producing it. So, it’s a brain thing, according to Clarke.

Neuroscientists have been looking into the areas of the brain that are activated by humor. Researchers at Stanford University, led by Dr. Allan Reiss, neuroscientist and child psychiatrist, are studying the brains of children through MRI’s, as they watch humorous videos. And compared to adults, the same region of the brain, the mesolimbic region, is activated. This region is active in kids as young as age 6.

Humor also activated another portion of the brain (temporal-occipital-parietal junction), which is that part of the brain that processes the act of surprise or mis-matches (incongruity). This makes sense because a lot of humor occurs when you are expecting a certain to happen or be said, and something totally different happens or is said, and it is then funny.

Humor and Human Hormones

Reiss also speculates that highly developed regions of the brain that process and understand humor will also correlate with the ability to be more resilient in handling stressful and difficult situations, often by the ability to see some humor in them. Even more interesting, however, is the chemicals that are released when humor is understood and appreciated.

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Endorphins

All of us are by now familiar with the “feel-good” hormones that are released during times of happiness, physical exercise, human touch, etc. They are responsible for the good feelings that we experience. But newer research is finding other hormonal results associated with humor.

Cortisol

Cortisol is better known as the stress hormone. This chemical damages brain neurons that are responsible for learning and memory, especially in older people. Research at Loma Linda University is now attempting to learn whether cortisol production is reduced by humor and whether humor can also reduce the damage to neurons that cortisol causes.

The study was simple enough. A group of senior citizens was shown a funny video for 20 minutes and then given a memory. The control group did not watch the video but took the same memory test. Sure enough – those who watched the video scored higher.

Cortisol concentrations were also recorded before and after the video. There was a definite decrease in cortisol concentrations in the group that watched the video. The decreases in cortisol were especially high in elderly with diabetes, which has now given researchers another area for study. It appears that laughter and humor will reduce stress.

Dr. G.S. Bain and Dr. L.S. Berk, heads of this study have expressed excitement about the study results, stating that there are big implications for wellness and better quality of life for the elderly.

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It seems, then, that laughter is not just “good medicine,” but also good for the memory and the reduction of stress.

In 1983, Dr. Howard Gardner, professor at Harvard University developed a theory of multiple intelligences. To him, humans had 8 different intelligences in different capacities. Some of these intelligences did involve humor as a characteristic – language, reasoning, and spatial specifically. These are the intelligences that we normally test through traditional IQ testing, so this explains why, finally, humor and intelligence are related.

No matter how scientists continue to study the relationships between humor and intelligence, we all know one thing. We appreciate that witty, funny person who brings us laughter.

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Last Updated on August 7, 2018

10 Famous Failures to Success Stories That Will Inspire You to Carry On

10 Famous Failures to Success Stories That Will Inspire You to Carry On

Failure occurs everyday, in school, jobs, housework, and within families. It is unavoidable, irritating and causes pessimism.

While the thought of flinging your hands in the air and walking away is all too appealing, take a second to connect with the people who have been there and survived.

Here are 10 famous failures to success stories around the world that will inspire you to keep going and achieve greatness:

1. J.K. Rowling

J.K.-Rowling

    During a Harvard commencement speech, Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling outlined the importance and value of failure.[1]

    Why? Simply because she was once a failure too.

    A few short years after her graduation from college, her worst nightmares were realized. In her words,

    “I had failed on an epic scale. An exceptionally short-lived marriage had imploded, and I was jobless, a lone parent, and as poor as it is possible to be in modern Britain, without being homeless. The fears that my parents had had for me, and that I had had for myself, had both come to pass, and by every usual standard, I was the biggest failure I knew.”

    Coming out of this failure stronger and more determined was the key to her success.

    2. Steve Jobs

    steve-jobs-31

      The now revolutionary Apple started off with two men in a garage. Years later we all know it as a $2 billion company with over 4000 employees.

      Yet, almost unbelievably, Steve Jobs was fired from the very company he began.

      The dismissal made him realize that his passion for his work exceeded the disappointment of failure. Further ventures such as NeXT and Pixar eventually led Jobs back to the CEO position at AppleJobs said in 2005:

      “I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me.”

      Lost your job today? Keep kicking and you could be just like this guy!

      3. Bill Gates
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        Bill Gates was a Harvard dropout. He co-owned a business called Traf-O-Data, which was a true failure.[2]

        However, skill and a passion for computer programming turned this failure into the pioneer of famous software company Microsoft, and the then 31-year-old into the world’s youngest self-made billionaire.

        In his own words:

        “It’s fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.”

        This isn’t to say that dropping out of Harvard will make you into a billionaire, but maybe that shiny degree isn’t worth as much as the drive and passion to succeed.

        4. Albert Einstein
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          The word ‘Einstein’ is associated with intelligence and synonymous with genius. Yet it is a famous fact that the pioneer of the theory of general relativity, Albert Einstein himself, could not speak fluently until the age of nine. His rebellious nature led to expulsion from school, and he was refused admittance to the Zurich Polytechnic School.

          His earlier setbacks did not stop him from winning the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1921. After all, he believed that:

          “Success is failure in progress.”

          To this day, his research has influenced various aspects of life including culture, religion, art, and even late night TV.

          Just because you haven’t achieved anything great yet, doesn’t mean you can’t be an Einstein yourself.

          5. Abraham Lincoln

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            Failing in business in 1831, suffering a nervous breakdown in 1836, defeated in his run for president in 1856, Abraham Lincoln was no stranger to rejection and failure. Rather than taking these signs as a motivation for surrender, he refused to stop trying his best.

            In this great man’s words:

            “My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure.”

            Lincoln was elected in 1861 as the 16th President of the United States of America.

            The amount of rejection you receive is not a defining factor. Success is still within your reach.

            6. Michael Jordan

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              “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

              This quote by retired basketball legend Michael Jordan in a Nike advertisement speaks for itself.

              It would be an easy misconception that Jordan’s basketball skills revolve around natural talent. In fact, in his earlier years,  basketball coaches had trouble looking past the fact that Jordan didn’t reach the minimum height. It was years of effort, practice, and failure that made the star we know today.

              7. Steven Spielberg

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                Regarded as one of the most influential filmmakers of all time, Steven Spielberg is a familiar household name. It is surprising to realize therefore that the genius behind Jaws and E.T. had poor grades in high school, getting him rejected from the University of Southern California three times.

                While he was in college, he caught the eye of executives at Universal, who signed him as a television director in 1969. This meant that he would not finish his college degree for another 33 years.

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                Perseverance and acceptance of failure is the key to success, after all.

                “Even though I get older, what I do never gets old, and that’s what I think keeps me hungry.”

                Bad grades in high school aside, there is no questioning the genius involved.

                To date, Spielberg has directed 51 films and has been awarded three Oscars.

                8. Walt Disney

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                  Mickey Mouse creator Walt Disney dropped out of school at a young age in a failed attempt at joining the army.[3] One of his earlier ventures, Laugh-o-Gram Studios, went bankrupt due to his lack of ability to run a successful business. He was once fired from a Missouri newspaper for “not being creative enough.”

                  Yet today, The genius behind Disney studios is responsible for generations of childhood memories and dreams. From Snow White to Frozen, Disney will continue to entertain the world for generations to come.

                  The logic behind this is simple:

                  “We don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious… and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”

                  9. Vincent Van Gogh
                  vincent_van_gogh

                    During his lifetime, Vincent Van Gogh suffered mental illness, failed relationships, and committed suicide at the age of 37.

                    He only ever sold one painting in his life, pinning him a failure as an artist. However that did not put a damper on his enthusiasm and passion for art.

                    He would never know that years and years after his death he would become known as a key figure in the world of post-impressionism, and ultimately, one of the greatest artist that ever lived.

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                    He would never know that he became a hot topic in art classes and his image was going to be used in TV, books and other forms of popular culture.

                    In the words of this great, but tragic man:

                    “If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.”

                    10. Stephen King

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                      As a paranoid, troubled child, tormented by nightmares and raised in poverty, it is no surprise that Stephen King grew up to the title: “Master of Horror”.[4]

                      An addiction to drugs and alcohol were his mechanisms to cope with the unhappiness he felt with his life. The frustration he felt towards multiple rejections by publishers in combination with illicit substances caused him to mentally contemplate violence towards his own children.

                      These intense emotions were those that he focused onto his writing. And that’s why he said:

                      “We make up horros to help us cope with the real ones.”

                      Writing became his new coping mechanism, and this is how the master author we know today grew to success.

                      Fail more often in order to succeed

                      Like Albert Einstein said, failure really is just success in progress. If you’d rather not to fail, you will probably never succeed.

                      Success comes from moments of frustrations when you’ll be most uncomfortable with. But after you’ve gone through all those bitter times, you’ll become stronger and you’ll get closer to success.

                      Don’t be afraid to fail. In fact, start failing, and start failing often; that’s how you will succeed.

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                      Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

                      Reference

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