Developing Appreciation for Sarcasm and Sarcastic Gossip: It Depends on Perspective Background Speakers use sarcasm to criticize others and to be funny; the indirectness of sarcasm protects the addressee's face (Brown & Levinson, 1987). Thus, appreciation of sarcasm depends on the ability to consider perspectives. Purpose We investigated development of this ability from late childhood into adulthood and examined ... Research Article
Research Article  |   November 09, 2017
Developing Appreciation for Sarcasm and Sarcastic Gossip: It Depends on Perspective
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Melanie Glenwright
    Department of Psychology, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada
  • Brent Tapley
    Department of Psychology, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada
  • Jacqueline K. S. Rano
    Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland–Medical University of Bahrain, Busaiteen
  • Penny M. Pexman
    Department of Psychology, University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada
  • Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.
    Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication. ×
  • Correspondence to Melanie Glenwright: Melanie.Glenwright@umanitoba.ca
  • Editor-in-Chief: Sean Redmond
    Editor-in-Chief: Sean Redmond×
  • Editor: Geralyn Timler
    Editor: Geralyn Timler×
Article Information
School-Based Settings / Normal Language Processing / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   November 09, 2017
Developing Appreciation for Sarcasm and Sarcastic Gossip: It Depends on Perspective
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, November 2017, Vol. 60, 3295-3309. doi:10.1044/2017_JSLHR-L-17-0058
History: Received May 16, 2017 , Revised June 27, 2017 , Accepted July 17, 2017
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, November 2017, Vol. 60, 3295-3309. doi:10.1044/2017_JSLHR-L-17-0058
History: Received May 16, 2017; Revised June 27, 2017; Accepted July 17, 2017

Background Speakers use sarcasm to criticize others and to be funny; the indirectness of sarcasm protects the addressee's face (Brown & Levinson, 1987). Thus, appreciation of sarcasm depends on the ability to consider perspectives.

Purpose We investigated development of this ability from late childhood into adulthood and examined effects of interpretive perspective and parties present.

Method We presented 9- to 10-year-olds, 13- to 14-year-olds, and adults with sarcastic and literal remarks in three parties–present conditions: private evaluation, public evaluation, and gossip. Participants interpreted the speaker's attitude and humor from the addressee's perspective and, when appropriate, from the bystander's perspective.

Results Children showed no influence of interpretive perspective or parties present on appreciation of the speaker's attitude or humor. Adolescents and adults, however, shifted their interpretations, judging that addressees have less favorable views of criticisms than bystanders. Further, adolescents and adults differed in their perceptions of the social functions of gossip, with adolescents showing more positive attitudes than adults toward sarcastic gossip.

Conclusions We suggest that adults' disapproval of sarcastic gossip shows a deeper understanding of the utility of sarcasm's face-saving function. Thus, the ability to modulate appreciation of sarcasm according to interpretive perspective and parties present continues to develop in adolescence and into adulthood.

Acknowledgments
This research was supported by a grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), awarded to Melanie Glenwright. We thank the following organizations for participation in our research: Elwick Community School, Charleswood School, Acadia Junior High, and West Broadway Youth Outreach.
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