Mind comedians

Published on January 19th, 2014 | by No Artificial


Comedians Have Psychotic Traits

Comedians and other creative people might have personality types linked with psychosis.

According to a new research conducted by Oxford University, comedians score highly on characteristics that are associated with psychotic disorders.

Professional comedians  have high levels of both introversion and extroversion,  the researchers noted.

The previous scientific research has shown that mental illness and creativity are linked.

However, there was not enough research on whether comedians have some of the psychotic traits – in a healthy form – associated with psychosis (delusions or hallucinations that can be present in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder).

Researchers from the University of Oxford and Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust tested 523 comedians from the U.S., U.K., and Australia.

The comedians were asked to complete an online questionnaire created at Oxford University to measure psychotic traits in healthy people.

The four aspects measured were:

1. Unusual experiences (belief in telepathy and paranormal events)
2. Cognitive disorganisation (distractibility and difficulty in focusing thoughts)
3. Introvertive anhedonia (reduced ability to feel social and physical pleasure, including an avoidance of intimacy)
4. Impulsive non-conformity (tendency towards impulsive, antisocial behaviour).

The same questionnaire was also completed by 364 actors and 831 individuals who worked in non-creative areas.

The scientists found that comedians scored significantly higher on all four types of psychotic personality traits than the rest, with particularly high scores for both extroverted and introverted personality traits.

The actors scored higher than the non-creative group on three types – but not on the introverted personality aspect.

The study’s authors believe that this uncommon personality structure may help explain the ability of comedians to entertain.

“The creative elements needed to produce humour are strikingly similar to those characterizing the cognitive style of people with psychosis – both schizophrenia and bipolar disorder,” Professor Gordon Claridge, of the University of Oxford’s Department of Experimental Psychology and the co-author of a study told BBC.

“Comedians tend to be slightly withdrawn, introverted people who may not always want to socialise, and their comedy is almost an outlet for that. It’s a kind of self-medication,” he added.


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