A new study has found that people who appreciate black humour tend to be more intelligent and have higher education levels.
A team of researchers, led by Ulrike Willinger at the Medical University of Vienna, tested whether people who liked humour which dealt with tragic, distressing or morbid subjects like death, disease, deformity, handicap or war were smarter, the Independent reports.
The authors of the study asked 156 participants to rate their understanding and enjoyment of 12 cartoons.
Understanding and enjoying black humour is a "complex information-processing task".
The cartoons came from The Black Book by Uli Stein, an anthology of dark humour cartoons which are described on Stein's website as: "Abyssal, deep black humour beyond all limits of taste".
The participants, who had an average age of 33, completed tests of their verbal and non-verbal IQ and answered questions about their background.
"The most surprising result is that subjects who show the highest values with respect to black humour preference and comprehension show high values with respect to intelligence, have higher education levels and show lowest values regarding mood disturbance and aggression," the team wrote in the study, which was published in the journal Cognitive Processing.
"On the other hand, subjects who show average verbal and nonverbal intelligence scores as well as high mood disturbance and high aggressiveness show the lowest values with respect to comprehension and preference of black humour."
Willinger and her team said the findings suggested that understanding and enjoying black humour is a "complex information-processing task", so a high level of intelligence helps.