The Science Is In: Sarcasm Makes You (and Your Friends) Smarter

You might want to stop rolling your eyes at your friend that is always making snarky sarcastic comments, because, chances are, they’re smarter than you.

laughingAntonio Guillem/ShutterstockWhether you’re making an inside joke or judgmental comment, sarcasm is typically frowned upon. Some people don’t get it, others can feel offended by it, and even though kids often hear their parents participating in sarcastic banter they get yelled at when they try to use it.

However, sarcasm exercises the brain, both for the person dishing it out and the people interpreting it. So, you might want to make sure that you have at least one sarcastic friend, because they can help you become smarter. (Friends that aren’t sarcastic can also be beneficial to your health, here’s how.)

“Sarcasm is related to our ability to understand other people’s mental state. It’s not just a linguistic form, it’s also related to social cognition,” Dr. Shamay-Tsoory, a psychologist at the Rambam Medical Centre in Haifa and the University of Haifa told Pucker Mob.

Sarcasm can make you smarter because it engages various cognitive skills in different parts of the brain. These parts include the same that help us to interpret language, recognize emotions, and understand social cues.

When your brain first hears a sarcastic comment it goes through three stages to understand it. First, the language section in the brain interprets the literal meaning of the word or words. Then, the frontal lobes and right hemisphere break down the intention of the speaker and look at things such as body language, tone of voice, and facial expression to interpret differences between the actual meaning of the word and this specific social context of the word. And lastly, the right ventromedial prefrontal cortex makes a decision on whether or not the comment is sarcastic based off of our social and emotional interpretation.

Now, when the person close to you accidentally hears the sarcastic comment that you whispered under your breath, you can apologize and say, “Sorry, I was just trying to make us both a little smarter.” Another sign of smarts: laughing at these dark jokes.

 

Sources: puckermob.com, scientificamerican.com

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