Monday, July 27, 2015

Is Sarcasm the Highest Form of Intelligence?

According to a new study in the journal Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, it may well be.

The study, called "The highest form of intelligence: Sarcasm increases creativity for both expressers and recipients", was published by Li Huang, Francesca Gino, and Adam Galinksy.

As with all other recent papers in journals by world-renowned publisher Elsevier, the study has five self-reported highlights:

(1) Sarcasm is an instigator of conflict but also a catalyst for creativity.

(2) General forms of sarcasm promote creativity through abstract thinking for both expressers and recipients.

(3) Expressing sarcasm to or receiving sarcasm from trusted others increases creativity without elevating conflict.

(4) We manipulated sarcasm via a simulated conversation task and a recall task.

(5) We employed three different creativity measures and a well-established measure of abstract thinking.

I feel like this study has justified the last 39 years of my existence.

Note: Absolutely no sarcasm was employed in the writing of this blog entry.

(Tip of the cap to Taha Yasseri.)

Update: A modified version of this post is now on the Improbable Research blog.

Update: Hmmm... I have pondered a bit, and I am now wondering if there are Elsevier journals --- such as ones that publish review articles? --- in which the five self-reported highlights are not required? It is possible that it should technically be "most other" or "almost all other" rather than "all other". I will leave an exhaustive check, or a search for a counterexample, as an exercise for the diligent reader. (My best guess is that it is policy for all research article, but I am not sure if it is also true for review articles, so "all research articles" is another potentially viable tweak to the phrasing.)

Update: Here is a blurb about the research in The Harvard Gazette. (I found this link via Francesca Gino's Twitter account.)

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