Puns are like direct mail. Although most people secretly like them, they claim they don’t. How many times have you told a really good pun, only to have the listeners groan? But then, moments later, you overhear them passing it on!
But you — and every other pun lover — can take heart! Although it’s considered good form in some circles to groan at even the best puns, a recent study in the Journal of Sighchology by Professor Al Gerian, suggests that pun lovers share some admirable personality characteristics!
Responses to puns reflect some very deep-seated psychological traits, Professor Gerian explains. His study identifies three basic responses to puns — and their underlying personality types:
- * No acknowledgement, or a nonverbal dismissal, like a shrug, indicates an extremely rigid person who thinks along straight lines and is very literal. This personality type has no imagination, minimal verbal and creative abilities, and may actually fail to understand the pun because of limited linguistic skill.
- * A groan or verbal dismissal indicates a more flexible personality type with more advanced verbal skills who wants to think non-linearly, but has a hard time doing so. This personality type tends to be insecure and un-giving, and extremely fearful of change. These people may find the playfulness inherent in puns upsetting to their sense of established rules and order. Or they may actually be jealous of the punster’s linguistic skills, but unwilling to admit it.
- * A broad grin, a hardy laugh, or positive verbal acknowledgement is a highly reliable indicator of top-notch verbal and creative skills, and an ability to look at things from more than one perspective. This personality type is secure, generous, highly innovative, able to admire the punster’s linguistic ability — and capable of responding in kind.
Building on Professor Gerian’s pioneering work, Professor Sue Crohse, in a study published in the Journal of Ego and Id-eology looked at punning as a tool for conducting job interviews. Professor Crohse found that 98.4% of the job applicants hired who laughed or smiled at puns had positive performance evaluations during the next three years. But only 32.6% of the groaners performed positively in the same period. Professor Crohse predicts that a pun response test will become a standard component of employment interviews by the year 2020. Of course if you’re a pun lover you’ve probably suspected this all along.