Why do some people like dark humor

By M.Farouk Radwan, MSc.

Humor and personal beliefs

For me dark humor is more disturbing than funny. I tried hardly to find a funny angle in cartoon featuring dying babies , someone committing suicide or someone blowing the head of his friend off but i failed.

Because i was hardly able to see any funny side to many of the extremely popular dark humor jokes i decided to research the topic to find out exactly what really makes a person laugh when he comes across such jokes.

When i talked earlier about the Psychology of jokes i said that for a joke to make a person laugh it must match his beliefs to a certain extent. If someone was against a certain US president then probably a joke about that president will be more funny to them than someone who is pro that president.

This brings us to the first aspect of dark humor which is that people use it to express their opinions about some Taboo topics in a subtle way. If for example a person had slight racist tendencies that he can't express directly due to social constrains then he might revert to such jokes in order to release some of those racist tendencies.

Humor , as unserious as it may seem be, can actually be an extreme honest expression of a person's beliefs.

Rediculating others to feel better

One of the most popular techniques humans use to elevate their own moods is to rediculate others. Why do you think we laugh when a friend of ours falls on the ground?

Of course there are several dimensions behind the funny part but certainly one of those dimensions could be laughing because we are safe where as someone else got misfortune.

I talked a lot about how humans strive for superiority all the time using so many different ways. One of the ways that people use to strive for superiority is to rediculate others, make fun of them or put them down.

In the Ultimate guide to becoming confident i said that wen a person feels that their self esteem got low they might quickly move to some of those strategies in order to elevate their self esteem again.

In other words positive reactions to dark humor can be a defensive mechanism that a human uses to protect his self esteem and well being.

Facing their fears

Another dimension of dark humor is allowing people to face the things they are afraid to face. A person who was always afraid of something could relief some of his fears by joking about it. Some people fear minorities and feel uncomfortable around them.

By joking about those minorities those people can face their fears directly in a calm and non-threatening way. see also Why Racism happens.

One of the most popular ways people use to make their problems seem smaller is to joke about them. In fact jokes are one of the most popular mood regulation techniques that we humans use.


The reason a person might like a certain joke but not another is directly related to that person's values, beliefs and his current mood. This is why the same joke can appeal to one person and not another and this is why some people might like dark humor while others might not.

If a joke goes strongly against a person's moral values then he might not like it. On the other hand the same joke might be very appealing to a person who doesn't have those values.

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