The Role of Individual Differences and Situational Factors in Perception of Verbal Irony

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A study was conducted to analyze the influence of situational and individual factors on verbal irony perception. Participants (N = 144) rated smartness, criticality, humorousness, and offensiveness of ironic utterances and their literal equivalents. The utterances were put in various contexts, differing in terms of the structure of the interlocutors’ social ranks and the responsibility of the addressee for the described event. Additionally, participants’ state and trait of anxiety were measured using the Polish adaptation of the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (Wrześniewski, Sosnowski, Jaworowska, & Fecenec, 2011) and their social competences were measured with the Social Competences Questionnaire (Matczak, 2007). Analyses showed that the structure of the interlocutors’ social ranks, the addressee’s responsibility, as well as the state and trait of anxiety can influence the perception of irony, although it does not always concern all of the variables rated herein. No link between social competences and irony perception was found.

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