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Psychotic traits in comedians

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 January 2018

Victoria Ando*
Affiliation:
Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford, Oxford
Gordon Claridge
Affiliation:
Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford, Oxford
Ken Clark
Affiliation:
Department of Psychology, Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, Reading, UK
*
Victoria Ando, St Hugh's College, University of Oxford, Oxford OX2 6LE, UK. Email: victoria.ando@new.oxon.org
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Abstract

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Background

The popular belief that creativity is associated with madness has increasingly become the focus of research for many psychologists and psychiatrists. However, despite being prime examples of creative thinking, comedy and humour have been largely neglected.

Aims

To test the hypothesis that comedians would resemble other creative individuals in showing a higher level of psychotic characteristics related to both schizophrenia and manic depression.

Method

A group of comedians (n=500+) and a control sample of actors (n = 350+) completed an online questionnaire containing the short version of the Oxford–Liverpool Inventory of Feelings and Experiences (O-LIFE), with scales measuring four dimensions of psychotic traits. Scores were compared with general population norms.

Results

Comedians scored significantly above O-LIFE norms on all four scales. Actors also differed from the norms but on only three of the scales. Most striking was the comedians' high score on both introverted anhedonia and extraverted impulsiveness.

Conclusions

This unusual personality structure may help to explain the facility for comedic performance.

Type
Papers
Copyright
Copyright © Royal College of Psychiatrists, 2014 

Footnotes

Declaration of interest

None.

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