In an experiment by Francesca Gino & her sassy conversation colleagues from Paris & New York,
They discovered something interesting about a tactic many of us have used to greater or lesser benefit depending on the situation.
It turns out that Banter, Verbal Irony, Repartee, and good-natured Badinage (what they’re calling “Sarcasm” here) is actually good for your brain, and those of all who take part in it.
Text Is Terrible. Voice Only Slightly Worse:
But first the bad news. As you might have encountered, text is terrible at communicating tone & context. What’s the urban legend? -98% of all communication is non-verbal?
Well believe it. In every study they tried, interpretation of text-sarcasm was disastrous, with verbal-only sarcasm interpretations faring almost 50% better.
NO JOKES IN EMAIL FOR YOU!!!
A Brain-Gym For Verbal Fencers:
And now circling back to the good news. In the other 3 studies, Francesca & pals discovered that even being Exposed to “sarcasm” makes your brain think better & get more creative.
The second part only occurred when the recipient was capable of understanding the irony. So for those initiating, it worked better.
Ironic Metaphor Works-Out Several Brain Regions:
They theorize the reason it works so well is you have to engage at least a few different types of creativity to whip-up the necessary metaphors, indirectness, contradiction & irony to hide that secondary meaning inside the face-value statement.
(another study estimates it as no-fewer than 4 different brain-region-networks)
Ever hear the other urban legend that a certain sense of humor can be attractive? Well, that’s just more irony-based evidence for the inventer being a smart cookie.
You Only Kid The Ones You Love:
And also note that 1 of the studies focused on non-familiar people engaging in “sarcasm” caused more interpersonal strife as you might expect.
-So the early clarification about the researchers probably intending something like “Good-Natured Facetiousness Among Friends” is by-far the most productive.
-So whatever you do, don’t misinterpret Francesca’s findings and in the name of creativity, go upsetting your coworkers during the next brainstorming-session.
Check out the rest of the details at the Links:
Photo Credits: “National Sarcasm Society” (t-shirt), by AcidPix
• Source: Sci-Am
• More Coverage: TheGuardian | Smithsonian
• Source Study: Organizational Behavior-The highest form of intelligence: Sarcasm increases creativity for both expressers and recipients