Well, we never would have guessed. What a surprise. Honestly, we're shocked.
A new study from Insead, a world-leading business school, together with Harvard and Columbia universities, suggests that people who engage in sarcasm - whether as the giver or receiver of comments - were up to three times more creative that those who abstain from the linguistic device.
The making and interpreting of sarcastic comments seemingly forces the brain to switch its mode to abstract thinking, a factor which boosts creativity.
Lead researcher Dr Li Huang said, “We found that sarcasm may stimulate creativity, the generation of ideas, insights, or problem solutions that are novel and useful. As Oscar Wilde believed, sarcasm may represent a lower form of wit, but we found that it certainly catalyses a higher form of thought.”
The study has been published in Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, following the study of 300 people and warns managers against strategies to minimise the use of sarcasm in the workplace, which is often frowned upon.
A task which required a 'creative' solution was given to people who had either been exposed to sarcastic comments, or made them, and people who were given sincere comments, together with a control. 75% of the first group and 64% of the second arrived at the correct solution compared to 25% and 30% of the latter two.
The study then stated that, “We have shown that creativity is enhanced following all types of sarcasm, from sarcastic anger and criticism to sarcastic compliments and banter. All forms of sarcastic exchanges, not just sarcastic anger or criticism, seem to exercise the brain more.”
A sarcastic comment involves internally debating whether a sentence is meant literally, or the opposite, making the brain work in abstract mode, which is already known to increase creativity.
So there you have it: banter is officially a good thing. Andy Gray and Richard Keys will no doubt be delighted.