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‘Psychotic Personality,’ An Asset for Comedians

Update Date: Jan 17, 2014 12:11 PM EST

Psychotic personalities could explain why comedians are so funny. According to a new study, researchers examined the traits of comedians and found that many of them have high levels of psychotic personality traits.

"Our study shows that, as creative people, comedians rate highly on the same personality traits as those regularly observed in other creative individuals. The traits in question are labeled 'psychotic' because they represent healthy equivalents of features such as moodiness, social introversion and the tendency to lateral thinking," said professor Gordon Claridge from the University of Oxford's Department of Experimental Psychology.

For this study, the research team from the University of Oxford and Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust recruited 523 healthy volunteers. 404 of them were male comedians and 119 of them were female comedians who belonged to many different comedy clubs, agencies, associations and societies from the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia. The researchers also recruited another 364 people who were actors and belonged to the control group. The results were compared to 831 people who did not have a creative occupation.

The researchers administered an online questionnaire that measured the levels of psychotic traits in the participants. The questionnaire covered four major categories, which were unusual experiences, cognitive disorganization, introvertive anhedonia and impulsive non-conformity. The researchers found that comedians have higher levels of psychotic traits. This finding supports the researchers' theory that this type of personality helps in the making of a comedian.

"The creative elements needed to produce humor are strikingly similar to those characterizing the cognitive style of people with psychosis - both schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Although schizophrenic psychosis itself can be detrimental to humor, in its lesser form it can increase people's ability to associate odd or unusual things or to think 'outside the box' Equally, manic thinking, which is common in people with bipolar disorder, may help people combine ideas to form new, original and humorous connections," explained Claridge reported by Medical Xpress.

The study was published in the British Journal of Psychiatry.

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