Measuring Intelligence with Humor Production

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The article I chose to use for this analysis was “Clever people: Intelligence and humor production ability” written by Alexander Christensen, Paul Silvia, Emily Nusbaum and Roger Beaty. I chose this article due to the fact that this question can be common for discussions or even on popular TV, are smarter people funnier? Using the example of siblings, they tend to put labels on who is the smart one and who is the funny one. This study however, suggests that the smart sibling is also the funnier one.

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The participants for this study were a sample of 270 adult students enrolled in Psychology. The age range was 18-48 with the mean age being 19 years of age. Of the sample group 86% were women (Christensen, Silvia, Nusbaum & Beaty, 2018). The researchers did not look at gender differences which I found interesting as women are often labeled as being smarter than men. The hypothesis for this study is the idea that individuals who are smarter are funnier due to the fact they can create funny ideas and witty remarks faster (Christensen, et al., 2018). Humour production ability is examined over the course of this study as the researchers attempt to prove their hypothesis. Humour production ability is the use of a visual or verbal aid that prompts them to make a joke. It also entails the ability to manipulate a phrase to make a ‘one liner’ joke (Christensen, et al., 2018). MethodologyThis is a quantitative study due to the fact the researchers are observing and analysing results taken from the judges who rate the creativity and humor or each participant based upon their answers. To test participant’s humor ability they went through three phases of tasks, cartoon captains, joke stems and definitions.

Cartoon drawing is one of the most popular tools to research humor ability. Participants were asked to draw a cartoon based on a scenario. For the joke stem task participants were asked to answer a question with a funny statement. This task showed how quickly participants could think of an answer and if it was considered funny. The last task had participants write definitions for odd concepts, this could demonstrate the participant’s creativity and ability to create funny ideas. (Christensen, et al., 2018). The participants then were asked to complete intelligence tasks. There were six tasks that had an assigned time limit.

The tasks tested various cognitive abilities. They included, a series of shapes, paper folding, letters and a numbers task. Participants then moved onto an advanced vocabulary test known as Crystallized Intelligence. This section had two parts both revolving around synonyms and specific words. All tasks were used to determine participant’s general intelligence/understanding as well as their cognitive function. ResultsAfter both sets of testing were complete the results were calculated. What was found was that there was a significant correlation between intelligence and the ability to come up with funny ideas. When all the factors were looked at, researchers saw that humor production and intelligence were in fact closely linked. The results showed that being funny is not just by coincidence but by the ability to generate creative ideas quickly. Having creative abilities such as the ability to crack a quick joke show a high level of cognitive function. Results showed that there was a correlation between participants who excelled at the crystallized intelligence tasks and their humor ability (Christensen, et al., 2018). This study has validity because it measured what was meant to be measured. The hypothesis of this study was to show that people who score higher on the intelligent tests would also be ranked funnier and that is not fact.

One thing to consider about this study is the reliability. Depending on who judges the participants and who the participants are it is likely that the results will differ. Though they may be similar they will likely not be the same which is a limitation to this type of study. Another limitation is that quantitative methods are the only methods that have been used to investigate this hypothesis. A good research topic should have studies offering both qualitative and quantitative methods so a larger amount of information can be discovered. ConclusionMeasuring intelligence can be done for so many reasons. It can be used to discover how quickly people can respond to sentences or it can be used to determine who may be wittier in a group of people. This is the first of few studies done to show that humor production and intelligence are closely linked. Currently the literature and research is limited. As results with this information continue to be explored this area will continue to be researched and we will have a better understanding of the link between humor production and intelligence. Perhaps, being the class clown is not so bad after all.

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