We tend to characterize sarcastic people as assholes, but it turns out, sarcasm is an important evolutionary trait. Of course I’m sure you knew that already. I don’t think I’ve ever had the privilege of writing an article for so many brilliant readers. You truly outshine the rest.
All joking aside, our ancestors are believed to have used sarcasm to define friends and foes. Neurologist Katherine Rankin from the University of California at San Francisco thinks humans used sarcasm as a survival tool for forming relationships and strengthening bonds.
Dr. Rankin and many others believe sarcasm was created and interpreted in the parahippocampal gyrus region of the brain, which is where all of our social intelligence is rooted.
Researchers note that sarcasm was likely a huge part of establishing human civilization, particularly relating to the origins of social interaction. Of course, it’s hard to know for certain. We can’t exactly go back in time and look, but we can look at how sarcasm is perceived today and get a good idea for its uses long ago.
French researcher Nicolas Gueguen studied 60 women between the ages of 20 and 26 who didn’t realize initially that any study was done. The women were exposed to a moderately sarcastic man and a rather straight forward and kind of bland man, and the women found the sarcastic one to be more attractive.
Not just that, but another study found that people who can dish it out as well as they take it in are more likely to be successful. This study examined 375 engineering students. They were asked to pretend to be a customer and listen to customer interactions with customer service agents.
Some conversations were neutral, others were hostile. The students who were subjected to conversations that had a little bit of shade, they came up with better problem-solving techniques than when listening to sweet or entirely mean customer service agents.