Comedians 'have psychotic traits'
HAVING an unusual personality structure could be the secret to making other people laugh, scientists said yesterday, after research showed that comedians have high levels of psychotic personality traits.
In a study in the British Journal Of Psychiatry, researchers analysed comedians from Australia, Britain and the United States and found they scored significantly higher on four types of psychotic characteristics, compared with a control group of people who had non-creative jobs.
The traits included a tendency towards impulsive or anti-social behaviour, and a tendency to avoid intimacy.
"The creative elements needed to produce humour are strikingly similar to those characterising the cognitive style of people with psychosis - both schizophrenia and bipolar disorder," said the study leader, Dr Gordon Claridge of the University of Oxford's department of experimental psychology.
"Equally, manic thinking - which is common in people with bipolar disorder - may help people combine ideas to form new, original and humorous connections."
The researchers recruited 523 comedians - 404 men and 119 women - and asked them to complete an online questionnaire designed to measure psychotic traits in healthy people.
The researchers found that comedians scored significantly higher on all four types of psychotic personality traits than the general group of 831 people who had non-creative jobs.
Most striking were their high scores for impulsive non-conformity and introverted personality traits, the researchers said.
The same questionnaire was also completed by 364 actors, who scored higher than the general group on three types - but did not display high levels of introverted personality traits.