Producing Irony in Adolescence: A Comparison Between Face-to-Face and Computer-Mediated Communication

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Abstract

The literature suggests that irony production expands in the developmental period of adolescence. We aimed to test this hypothesis by investigating two channels: face-to-face and computer-mediated communication (CMC). Corpora were collected by asking seventh and 11th graders to freely discuss some general topics (e.g., music), either face-to-face or on online forums. Results showed that 6.2% of the 11th graders’ productions were ironic utterances, compared with just 2.5% of the seventh graders’ productions, confirming the major development of irony production in adolescence. Results also showed that adolescents produced more ironic utterances in CMC than face-to-face. The analysis suggested that irony use is a strategy for increasing in-group solidarity and compensating for the distance intrinsic to CMC, as it was mostly inclusive and well-marked on forums. The present study also confirmed previous studies showing that irony is compatible with CMC.

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