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Comedians show psychotic traits

ComedianAccording to a study that was recently published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, comedians are said to have more than the usual levels of psychotic traits. The research that was conducted by the Oxford University showed comedians making high scores on traits which in their extreme form could turn into mental illnesses.

“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,” says Professor Gordon Claridge who led the study at the University of Oxford’s Department of Experimental Psychology.

523 comedians (404 male and 119 female) were put to the test through an online questionnaire that helped determine psychotic traits in normal people. The comedians taking part in the research hailed from Britain, the United States and Australia. 364 actors who were accustomed to performing for an audience were also given the same test. The results of both these groups were collected and compared, and thereafter further compared to the results of another group which consisted of people who had non-creative jobs. The questionnaire scored the participants on four types of psychotic traits.

The four characteristics measured were unusual experiences (belief in telepathy and paranormal events), cognitive disorganization (distractibility and difficulty in focusing thoughts), introvertive anhedonia (reduced ability to feel social and physical pleasure, including an avoidance of intimacy), and impulsive non-conformity (tendency towards impulsive, antisocial behaviour).

Compared to the general group hailing from non-creative jobs, the comedians received higher scores on all four types of psychotic personality traits.

“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,” Professor Claridge added.


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