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The effect of speaker age on the perception of ironic insults

Jared, DJ; Pandolfo, A; (2021) The effect of speaker age on the perception of ironic insults. Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology , 75 (2) pp. 146-154. 10.1037/cep0000222. Green open access

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Abstract

We investigated a cue that readers may use in determining whether a remark such as “You are so helpful!” is intended as a compliment or as an ironic insult. The cue was the age of the speaker. Remarks were preceded by a sentence that either invited a literal or ironic interpretation of the remark. Data were collected on the familiarity of the remark as an ironic statement, and the incongruity of the remark with the prior context. In Experiment 1, participants were asked to rate the intent of the speaker as to how ironic, mocking, polite, and funny they intended their remark to be. In Experiment 2, participants read the scenarios as their eye movements were tracked. The results showed that age of the speaker had an impact on first pass reading times when statements were not familiar as ironic statements. Our younger adult participants did not appear to immediately activate a nonliteral interpretation of an ambiguous remark made by an older adult unless they had evidence from past experience that the remark is often used as an insult. However, ratings of the ironic intent of the statements were unaffected by speaker age; the age of the speaker affects the ease of interpretation but not the final outcome. The results are consistent with constraint-based theories of sentence comprehension.

Type: Article
Title: The effect of speaker age on the perception of ironic insults
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1037/cep0000222
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/cep0000222
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Irony comprehension, nonliteral language, eye tracking, age effects, compréhension de l’ironie, langage non littéral, monitorage oculaire, effets de l’âge
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > UCL School of Pharmacy
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > UCL School of Pharmacy > Practice and Policy
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10115560
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