Verbal irony processing: How do contrast and humour correlate?

Arnaud Calmus, Stéphanie Caillies
Published Online:
20 Sep 2013
Volume/Issue No:
Volume 49 Issue 1

Additional Options

Verbal irony relies on contrast, that is, incongruity between the situational context and the ironic assertion. But is the degree of contrast related to the perceived humorousness of ironic comments? We answered this question by conducting two experiments. In the first experiment, participants were asked to read a list of sentence pairs (ironic or control) and judge the extent to which the meaning of the first sentence contrasted with that of the second. In the second experiment, participants were invited to rate the humorousness of ironic comments compared with their literal counterparts. Results showed that ironic remarks were rated as more contrasting and more humorous than their literal counterparts, but that humour only emerged from a moderate contrast.

© 2013 International Union of Psychological Science