added a research item
Interindividual differences in irony detection and use: The role of personality and ability
- Richard Bruntsch
- Jennifer Hofmann
- Willibald Ruch
Being the first to ask the question whether (a) systematic interindividual differences in irony performance can be found and (b) whether this interindividual variance can be explained by personality and ability variables, the present thesis aims to paint a clearer picture of who is able or inclined to detect or use irony. The aim in dealing with these questions is to open up a new field of study for both personality and irony research by conceptualizing irony detection as an aptitude and irony use as an enduring tendency. The results support these expectations by demonstrably (a) linking the aptitude to detect irony to general mental ability and personality traits, and (b) linking the tendency to use irony to personality traits. More broadly, the results support the central claims in that they indicate (a) that there is systematic and measurable interindividual variance in irony detection and use, and (b) that a substantial amount of this interindividual variance can be explained by variables from the realm of ability and personality as two central domains of individual differences. Furthermore, the present thesis introduces a new means of assessing irony detection performance (i.e., including ironic praise as a previously neglected category of stimuli). As a secondary result, the present thesis also supports pre-existing assumptions about the role of humor in irony behaviors. The findings have implications for different fields of irony and humor research. http://opac.nebis.ch/ediss/20183223.pdf
Studies of irony detection have commonly used ironic criticisms (i.e., mock positive evaluation of negative circumstances) as stimulus materials. Another basic type of verbal irony, ironic praise (i.e., mock negative evaluation of positive circumstances) is largely absent from studies on individuals' aptitude to detect verbal irony. However, it can be argued that ironic praise needs to be considered in order to investigate the detection of irony in the variety of its facets. To explore whether the detection ironic praise has a benefit beyond ironic criticism, three studies were conducted. In Study 1, an instrument (Test of Verbal Irony Detection Aptitude; TOVIDA) was constructed and its factorial structure was tested using N = 311 subjects. The TOVIDA contains 26 scenario-based items and contains two scales for the detection of ironic criticism vs. ironic praise. To validate the measurement method, the two scales of the TOVIDA were experimentally evaluated with N = 154 subjects in Study 2. In Study 3, N = 183 subjects were tested to explore personality and ability correlates of the two TOVIDA scales. Results indicate that the co-variance between the ironic TOVIDA items was organized by two inter-correlated but distinct factors: one representing ironic praise detection aptitude and one representing ironic criticism detection aptitude. Experimental validation showed that the TOVIDA items truly contain irony and that item scores reflect irony detection. Trait bad mood and benevolent humor (as a facet of the sense of humor) were found as joint correlates for both ironic criticism and ironic praise detection scores. In contrast, intelligence, trait cheerfulness, and corrective humor were found as unique correlates of ironic praise detection scores, even when statistically controlling for the aptitude to detect ironic criticism. Our results indicate that the aptitude to detect ironic praise can be seen as distinct from the aptitude to detect ironic criticism. Generating unique variance in irony detection, ironic praise can be postulated as worthwhile to include in future studies—especially when studying the role of mental ability, personality, and humor in irony detection.
As humor has pervasively been postulated as a function of irony, humor-related traits such as the joy of laughing at others (i.e., katagelasticism) or trait seriousness can be assumed to predict who is more and who is less inclined to use verbal irony—even beyond the possible effect of broad personality dimensions. For the present study, N=153 subjects made responses in two different irony use measures and completed personality questionnaires. As expected, irony use scores were higher among individuals who tend to break with social conventions, joyfully expose others' transgressions, or aggressively use ridicule (i.e., individuals scoring high in psychoticism, katagelasticism, or the aggressive humor style). Moreover, irony use was more prevalent among playful individuals who tend to entertain others by joyfully exposing themselves as the butt of jokes or engaging in as-if behaviors (i.e., low-serious individuals, scoring high in gelotophilia or the histrionic self-presentation style). Using a hierarchical regression analysis, it was found that over and above redundancy katagelasticism and—unexpectedly so—the self-defeating humor style predicted irony use beyond the influence of psychoticism. Accordingly, irony may also be seen as a way to hide negative feelings behind humor and to avoid dealing constructively with problems. © 2017 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
The aim of the paper is fourfold: (a) show why humor scholars should study irony, (b) explore the need for considering interindividual differences in healthy adults’ irony performance, (c) stress the necessity for developing tools assessing habitual differences in irony performance, and (d) indicate future directions for joint irony and humor research and outline possible applications. Verbal irony is often employed with a benevolent humorous intent by speakers, but can also serve as a means of disparagement humor. In both cases, encoding and decoding activities entailing irony need to be considered in the context of the psychology of humor. We argue that verbal irony performance can be considered a phenomenon native to the realm of humor and individual differences. We point out that research has widely neglected the meaningfulness of variance in irony performance within experimental groups when looking at determinants of irony detection and production. Based on theoretical considerations and previous empirical findings we show that this variance can be easily related to individual-differences variables such as the sense of humor, dispositions toward laughter and ridicule (e.g., gelotophobia), and general mental ability. Furthermore, we hypothesize that there is an enduring trait determining irony performance we will label the sense of irony. The sense of irony possibly goes along with inclinations toward specific affective and cognitive processing patterns when dealing with verbal irony. As an application, novel irony performance tests can help to study psychological and neurophysiological correlates of irony performance more feasibly, that is, in nonclinical groups.