The role of politeness and humor in the asymmetry of affect in verbal irony
Four experiments were conducted to assess the roles of politeness and humor in the asymmetry of affect observed in verbal irony production. In Experiments 1 and 2, participants rated different replies (ironic, literal, or “no response”) made to hypothetical scenarios for their politeness and humor, respectively. Participants in Experiment 3 were given the response options rated in the 2 previous experiments and were asked which response they would be most likely to make in each situation. Experiment 4 was a replication of Experiment 3 with the no-response option removed. Results indicated that humor, but not politeness, was a significant factor in a speaker’s decision to use verbal irony. These results raise some important questions for existing theories concerned with the roles of politeness and humor in the production of irony.