The emotional impact of verbal irony: eye-tracking evidence for a two-stage process

Filik, Ruth and Brightman, Emily and Gathercole, Chloe and Leuthold, Hartmut (2017) The emotional impact of verbal irony: eye-tracking evidence for a two-stage process. Journal of Memory and Language, 93 . pp. 193-202. ISSN 0749-596X

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In this paper we investigate the socio-emotional functions of verbal irony. Specifically, we use eye-tracking while reading to assess moment-to-moment processing of a character’s emotional response to ironic versus literal criticism. In Experiment 1, participants read stories describing a character being upset following criticism from another character. Results showed that participants initially more easily integrated a hurt response following ironic criticism; but later found it easier to integrate a hurt response following literal criticism. In Experiment 2, characters were instead described as having an amused response, which participants ultimately integrated more easily following ironic criticism. From this we propose a two-stage process of emotional responding to irony: Whilst readers may initially expect a character to be more hurt by ironic than literal criticism, they ultimately rationalise ironic criticism as being less hurtful, and more amusing.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Language comprehension; irony; emotion; eye-tracking
Schools/Departments: University of Nottingham, UK > Faculty of Science > School of Psychology
Identification Number:
Depositing User: Blay, James
Date Deposited: 27 Oct 2016 10:26
Last Modified: 18 Oct 2017 18:30

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