I’m *So* Sorry that My Sarcasm is Making Me More Creative

If you grew up being told you have a “smart mouth,” your parents may have been on to something. A new study by Harvard University and Columbia University shows a link between sarcasm and creativity.Shocking. Researchers interacted with three groups of people who expressed themselves sarcastically, earnestly, and neutrally. They found that the sarcastic group showed “enhanced creativity” when asked to perform creative tasks, likely because both promote abstract thinking. Responding in a way that is not straight-forward or literal requires one to think outside of what is expected, the same skill set used when using creativity to create art or problem solve. The downside? If you are expressing sarcasm to someone who doesn’t trust you, there’s a greater chance of creating conflict. Oh so that’swhy Gandhi was always throwing shade to the British Empire with his hilarious throwdowns. Sarcasm can heighten conflict! Who knew.

Sarcasm requires a certain amount of intelligence from both the sender and receiver. The person making the sarcastic statement is thinking in a non-literal way and can read the social cues to know whether or not the person they are talking to will get it. The receiver has to make sense of what was said— read the tone, read the facial expressions, realize the person means the opposite, and react accordingly. It’s a high form of intelligence, as it requires both cerebral and social finesse. That’s why sarcasm over text or email is so often misunderstood, and why sarcasm from strangers leads to conflict: we can’t read you well enough to know what you mean....more