Are you known for your biting sense of humor? Would your friends call you caustic? Is irony the highest form of verbal art (in your humble opinion)? Then you can also be considered something else besides “sarcastic”: intelligent.
A study out of Harvard Business School finds that sarcasm is the “highest form of intelligence.” The study’s authors delved into “the cognitive experiences of sarcastic expressers and recipients or their behavioral implications” to test and see if sarcasm is a mode of higher thinking.
In two studies, they found that the sassy among us were causing more conflict, but were also demonstrating “enhanced creativity” after following a mock sarcastic conversation or recalling a sarcastic exchange.
In a third study, they found that sarcasm enhanced creativity in the form of abstract thinking. You’ve got to work hard for those jokes, folks. And in a fourth study, they discovered “when participants expressed sarcasm toward or received sarcasm from a trusted other, creativity increased but conflict did not.” Which is fascinating because it implies that you might not be mad at the jokes cracked by the most sharp witted person in the office if you already like that person.
What’s even more interesting, is that our ability to detect sarcasm also says something about our IQ. According to The Smithsonian, “Studies have shown that exposure to sarcasm enhances creative problem solving.” They also found that the brain works even better when it gets sarcasm: “Scientists who have monitored the electrical activity of the brains of test subjects exposed to sarcastic statements have found that brains have to work harder to understand sarcasm.”
So, our suggestion is not to flee from the most sarcastic person in your work life. They may be good for your brain and enhancing your creativity!