The effects of modulating contrast in verbal irony as a cue for giftedness

Ivana Bianchi 1 , Carla Canestrari 2 , Anna Maria Roncoroni 3 , Roberto Burro 4 , Erika Branchini 4  and Ugo Savardi 4
  • 1 Department of Humanities, University of Macerata, via Garibaldi 20, 62100, Macerata, Italy
  • 2 Department of Education, Cultural Heritage and Tourism, University of Macerata, P.le Luigi Bertelli 1, 62100, Macerata, Italy
  • 3 President of the Italian Association for Gifted and Talented students, Member of the General Committee of the European Council for High Ability, Piazza Alessi 1/12, Genova, Italy
  • 4 Department of Human Sciences, University of Verona, Lungadige Porta Vittoria 27, 37129, Verona, Italy
Ivana Bianchi, Carla Canestrari
  • Corresponding author
  • Department of Education, Cultural Heritage and Tourism, University of Macerata, P.le Luigi Bertelli 1, 62100, Macerata, Italy
  • Email
  • Search for other articles:
  • degruyter.comGoogle Scholar
, Anna Maria Roncoroni
  • President of the Italian Association for Gifted and Talented students, Member of the General Committee of the European Council for High Ability, Piazza Alessi 1/12, Genova, 16128, Italy
  • Email
  • Search for other articles:
  • degruyter.comGoogle Scholar
, Roberto Burro, Erika Branchini and Ugo Savardi

Abstract

This study adds to the existing literature on the ability to understand irony of typically developing versus gifted students (aged 12–15). In addition to the canonical condition of polarized statements applied to oppositely polarized situations, we also considered the case of intermediate statements and situations. The results showed a significant difference between the two groups of participants. Both groups recognized an ironic interpretation in the more usual condition of a polarized statement applied to a clearly oppositely polarized situation and they also grasped the idea that the bigger the contrast, the more ironic the message. However, gifted students demonstrated greater mastery, with regard to both polarized and intermediate statements. They also demonstrated greater ability compared with their non-gifted peers in the task which required them to explain the “rule” underlying the conditions which applied to the comments they had judged as ironic and to then produce ironic stories demonstrating the specificity of irony (not to be confused with generic humor).

  • Ackerman, B. P. 1982. Contextual integration and utterance interpretation: The ability of children and adults to interpret sarcastic utterances. Child Development 53. 1075–1083. doi:.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Ackerman, B. P. 1983. Form and function in children’s understanding of ironic utterances. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology 35(3). 487–508. doi:.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Akimoto, Y, S. Miyazawa & T. Muramoto. 2012. Comprehension processes of verbal irony: The effects of salience, egocentric context and allocentric theory of mind. Metaphor & Symbol 27. 217–242. doi:.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Ameka, F. 1992. Interjections: The universal yet neglected part of speech. Journal of Pragmatics 18. 101–118. doi:.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Angeleri, R & G. Airenti. 2014. The development of joke and irony understanding: A study with 3- to 6-year-old children. Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology 68(2). 133–146. doi:.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Attardo, S. 2000. Irony markers and functions: Towards a goal-oriented theory of irony and its processing. Rask 12. 3–20.

  • Attardo, S., J. Eisterhold, J. Hay & I. Poggi. 2003. Multimodal markers of irony and sarcasm. Humor. International Journal of Humor Research 16(2). 243–260. doi:.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Augustinova, M. 2008. Falsification cueing in collective reasoning: Example of Wason selection task. European Journal of Social Psychology 38. 770–785. doi:.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Augustinova, M., D. Oberlé & G. L. Stasser. 2005. Differential access to information and anticipated group interaction: Impact on individual reasoning. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 88. 619–631. doi:.

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Export Citation
  • Banasik, N. 2013. Non-literal speech comprehension in preschool children- An example from a study on verbal irony. Psychology of Language and Communication 17(3). 309–323. doi:.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Bates, D., M. Maechler, B. Bolker & S. Walker. 2015. Fitting linear mixed-effects models using lme4. Journal of Statistical Software 67(1). 1–48. doi:.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Bergen, D. 2009. Gifted children’s humor preferences, sense of humor, and comprehension of riddles. Humor. International Journal of Humor Research 22(4). 419–436. doi:.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Bergen, D. 2014. Children’s humor and giftedness. In S. Attardo (ed.), Encyclopedia of humor studies, 120–121. Washington DC: Sage Publications.

  • Bernstein, D. 1986. The development of humor: Implications for assessment and interventions. Topics and language Disorders 6. 65–71. doi:.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Bianchi, I., R. Burro, S. Torquati & U. Savardi. 2013. The middle of the road: Perceiving intermediates. Acta Psychologica 144(1). 121–135. doi:.

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Export Citation
  • Bianchi, I., U. Savardi, R. Burro & S. Torquati. 2011a. Negation and psychological dimensions. Journal of Cognitive Psychology 23. 275–301. doi:.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Bianchi, I., U. Savardi & M. Kubovy. 2011b. Dimensions and their poles: A metric and topological approach to opposites. Language and Cognitive Processes 26. 1232–1265. doi:.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Borenstein, M., L. V. Hedges, J. Higgins & H. R. Rothstein. 2009. Random-effects model. In Introduction to Meta-analysis, 69–75. Chichester: Wiley.

  • Bosco, F. M. & M. Bucciarelli. 2008. Simple and complex deceits and ironies. Journal of Pragmatics 40(4). 583–607. doi:.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Bozzi, P. 1978. L’interosservazione come metodo per la fenomenologia sperimentale [Interobservation as method for the experimental phenomenology]. Giornale Italiano di Psicologia 5. 229–239.

  • Bozzi, P. & L. Martinuzzi. 1989. Un esperimento di interosservazione [An inter-observational experiment]. Rivista di Psicologia 1. 1–46.

  • Branchini, E., I. Bianchi, R. Burro, E. Capitani & U. Savardi. 2016. Can Contraries Prompt Intuition in Insight Problem Solving?. Frontiers in Psychology 7. 1962. doi:.

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Export Citation
  • Burgers, C., M. Van Mulken & P. J. Schellens. 2012. Type of evaluation and marking of irony: The role of perceived complexity and comprehension. Journal of Pragmatics 44(3). 231–242. doi:.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Burnett, D. L. 2015. Exploring the role of conventionality in children’s interpretation of ironic remarks. Journal of Child Language 42(6). 1–22. doi:.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Calmus, A. & S. Caillies. 2014. Verbal irony processing: How do contrast and humour correlate?. International Journal of Psychology 49(1). 46–50. doi:.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Canestrari, C. & I. Bianchi. In press. Perceptual opposites and the modulation of contrast in irony. Review of Cognitive Linguistics.

  • Canestrari, C., I. Bianchi & V. Cori. In press. De-polarizing verbal irony. Journal of Cognitive Psychology.

  • Chung, D., K. Yun, J. H. Kim, B. Jang & J. Jeong. 2011. Different gain/loss sensitivity and social adaptation ability in gifted adolescents during a public goods game. PLoS ONE 6(2). e17044. doi:.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Cohen, J. 1988. Statistical power analysis for the behavioral sciences, 2nd edn. New York: Academic Press.

  • Colston, H. L. 2002. Contrast and assimilation in verbal irony. Journal of Pragmatics 34. 111–142. doi:.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Colston, H. L. & J. O’Brien. 2000a. Contrast of kind versus contrast of magnitude: The pragmatic of accomplishments of irony and hyperbole. Discourse Processes 30(2). 179–199. doi:.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Colston, H. L. & J. O’Brien. 2000b. Contrast and pragmatics in figurative language. Anything understatement can do, irony can do better. Journal of Pragmatics 32. 1557–1583. doi:.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Cori, V., C. Canestrari & I. Bianchi. 2016. The perception of contrariety and the processing of verbal irony. Gestalt Theory – An International Multidisciplinary Journal 38(2-3). 253–266.

  • Creusere, M. 2000. A developmental test of theoretical perspectives on the understanding of verbal irony: Children’s recognition of allusion and pragmatic insincerity. Metaphor and Symbol 15. 29–45. doi:.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Cukierkorn, J. R., F. A. Karnes, S. J. Manning, H. Houston & K. Besnoy. 2008. Recognizing giftedness: Defining high ability in young children. Dimensions of Early Childhood 36(2). 3–13.

  • Dews, S., J. Caplan & E. Winner. 1995. Why not say it directly? The social functions of irony. Discourse Processes 19. 347–367. doi:.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Dews, S., H. Winner, J. Kaplan, E. Rosenblatt, M. Hunt, K. Lim & B. Smarsh. 1996. Children’s understanding of the meaning and functions of verbal irony. Child Development 67. 3071–3085. doi:.

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Export Citation
  • Dynel, M. 2014. Isn’t it ironic? Defining the scope of humorous irony. Humor. International Journal of Humor Research 27(4). 619–639. doi:.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Filippova, E. & J. W. Astington. 2008. Further development in social reasoning revealed in discourse irony understanding. Child Development 79. 126–138. doi:.

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Export Citation
  • Filippova, E. & J. W. Astington. 2010. Children’s understanding of social-cognitive and social-communicative aspects of discourse irony. Child Development 81(3). 913–928. doi:.

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Export Citation
  • Gibbs, R. W. 2000. Irony in talk among friends. Metaphor and Symbol 15(1–2). 5–27. doi:.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Gibbs, R. W., Jr., G. A. Bryant & H. L. Colston. 2014. Where is the humor in verbal irony?. Humor. International Journal of Humor Research 27(4). 575–595. doi:.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Giora, R. 1995. On irony and negation. Discourse Processes 19(2). 239–264. doi:.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Giora, R., O. Fein, J. Ganzi, N. A. Levi & H. Sabah. 2005. On negation as mitigation: The case of negative irony. Discourse Processes 39(1). 81–100. doi:.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Giora, R., S. Givoni & O. Fein. 2015. Defaultness reigns: The case of sarcasm. Metaphor and Symbol 30(4). 290–313. doi:.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Giora, R., S. Givoni, V. Heruti & O. Fein. 2017. The role of defaultness in affecting pleasure: The optimal innovation hypothesis revisited. Metaphor and Symbol 32(1). 1–18. doi:.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Glenwright, M., J. M. Parackel, K. J. Cheung & E. Nilsen. 2013. Intonation influences how children and adults interpret sarcasm. Journal of Child Language 41(2). 472–484. doi:.

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Export Citation
  • Glenwright, M. & P. M. Pexman. 2010. Development of children’s ability to distinguish sarcasm and verbal irony. Journal of Child Language 37. 429–451. doi:.

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Export Citation
  • Gottfredson, L. S. 1997. Why g matters: The complexity of everyday life. Intelligence 24(1). 79–132. doi:.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Gross, M. 1999. Small poppies: Highly gifted children in the early years. Roeper Review 21(3). 207–214. doi:.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Hancock, J. T., P. J. Dunham & K. Purdy. 2000. Children’s comprehension of critical and complimentary forms of verbal irony. Journal of Cognition and Development 1(2). 227–248. doi:.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Harris, M. & P.M. Pexman. 2003. Children’s perception of the social functions of verbal irony. Discourse Processes 36(3). 147–165. doi:.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Haverkate, H. 1990. A speech act analysis of irony. Journal of Pragmatics 14. 77–109. doi:.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Herrero Ruiz, J. 2009. Understanding tropes. At the crossroads between pragmatics and cognition. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang.

  • Hoh, P. S. 2005. The linguistic advantage of the intellectually gifted child: An empirical study of spontaneous speech. Roeper Review 27(3). 178–185. doi:.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Holt, D. G. & C. W. Holt. 1995. An exploration of the relationship between humor and giftedness in students. Humor. International Journal of Humor Research 8(3). 257–271. doi:.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Jacob, H., B. Kreifelts, S. Nizielski, A. Schütz & D. Wildgruber. 2016. Effects of emotional intelligence on the impression of irony created by the mismatch between verbal and nonverbal cues. PLoS ONE 11(10). e0163211. doi:.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Klavir, R. & M. Gorodetsky. 2001. The processing of analogous problems in the verbal and visual-humorous (cartoons) modalities by gifted/average children. Gifted Child Quarterly 45(3). 205–215. doi:.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Kubovy, M. 2002. Phenomenology, cognitive. In L. Nadel (ed.), Encyclopedia of cognitive science, 579–586. London, UK: Nature Publishing Group.

  • Kuznetsova, A., B. P. Bruun & B. C. R. Haubo. 2016. lmerTest: Tests in linear mixed effects models. R package version 2.0-32, https://CRAN.R-project.org/package=lmerTest

  • Larson, J. R. & C. Christensen. 1993. Groups as problem solving units: Toward a new meaning of social cognition. British Journal of Social Psychology 32. 5–30. doi:.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Lenth, R. V. 2016. Least-squares means: The R package lsmeans. Journal of Statistical Software 69(1). 1–33. doi:.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Loukusa, S. & E. Leinonen. 2008. Development of comprehension of ironic utterances in 3- to 9-year old Finnish-speaking children. Psychology of Language and Communication 12(1). 55–69. doi:.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Matthews, J. K., J. T. Hancock & P. Dunham. 2006. The roles of politeness and humor in the asymmetry of affect in verbal irony. Discourse Processes 41(1). 3–24. doi:.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Mercier, H. & D. Sperber. 2011. Why do humans reasons? Arguments for an argumentative theory. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 34. 57–111. doi:.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Milanowicz, A. 2013. Irony as a means of perception through communication channels. Emotions, attitude and IQ related to irony across gender. Psychology of Language and Communication 17(2). 115–132. doi:.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Nakagawa, S. & H. Schielzeth. 2013. A general and simple method for obtaining R2 from generalized linear mixed-effects models. Methods in Ecology and Evolution 4. 133–142. doi:.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Nicholson, A., J.M. Whalen & P.M. Pexman. 2013. Children’s processing of emotion in ironic language. Frontiers in Psychology 4. 691. doi:.

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Export Citation
  • Orsini, A., L. Pezzuti & L. Picone. 2012. Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children-IV (Italian edition). Firenze, IT: Giunti.

  • Pennington, N. & R. Hastie. 1993. Reasoning in explanation-based decision making. Cognition 49. 123–163. doi:.

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Export Citation
  • Pexman, P. M. & M. Glenwright. 2007. How do typically developing children grasp the meaning of verbal irony?. Journal of Neurolinguistics 20(2). 178–196. doi:.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Pexman, P. M., M. Glenwright, A. Krol & J. Tammy. 2005. An acquired taste: Children’s perceptions of humor and teasing in verbal irony. Discourse Processes 40(3). 259–288. doi:.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Pexman, P.M., L. Zdrazilova, D. McConnachie, K. Deater-Deckard & S.A. Petrill. 2009. “That was smooth, Mom”: Children’s production of verbal and gestural irony. Metaphor and Symbol 24. 237–248. doi:.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Pieternel, D., D. Barelds, R. Sieuwke & A. Nauta. 2011. Humor Styles and their Relationship to Well-Being among the Gifted. Gifted & Talented International 26(1-2). 89–98. doi:.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Raven, J., J. C. Raven & J. H. Court. 2000. Standard progressive matrices. Oxford: Psychology Press.

  • Recchia, H. E., N. Howe, S. H. Ross & S. Alexander. 2010. Children’s understanding and production of verbal irony in family conversations. British Journal of Developmental Psychology 28. 255–274. doi:.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Reis, S. M. & J. S. Renzulli. 2009. Myth 1: The gifted and talented constitute one single homogeneous group and giftedness is a way of being that stays in the person over time and experiences. The Gifted Child Quarterly 53(4). 233–235. doi:.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Shade, R. 1991. Verbal humor in gifted students and students in the general population: Comparison of spontaneous mirth and comprehension. Journal for the Education of the Gifted 14(2). 134–150. doi:.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Sharifi, H. & M. Sharifi. 2014. Comparing emotional intelligence and humor in gifted and nongifted students. Indian Journal of Scientific Research 7(1). 1319–1324.

  • Shi, J., T. Tao, W. Chen, L. Cheng, L. Wang & X. Zhang. 2013. Sustained attention in intellectually gifted children assessed using a continuous performance test. PLoS ONE 8(2). e57417. doi:.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Subotnik, R. F., P. Olszewski-Kubilius & F. Worrell. 2011. Rethinking giftedness and gifted education. A proposed direction forward based on psychological science. Psychological Science in the Public Interest 12(1). 3–54. doi:.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Thompson, V. A., J. St. B. T. Evans & S. J. Handley. 2005. Persuading and dissuading by conditional argument. Journal of Memory and Language 53. 238–257. doi:.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Tindale, R. S. & T. Kameda. 2000. ‘Social sharedness’ as a unifying theme for information processing in groups. Group Processes & Intergroup Relations 3. 123–140. doi:.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Tindale, R. S., H. M. Meisenhelder, A. A. Dykema-Engblade & M. A. Hogg. 2001. Shared cognitions in small groups. In M. A. Hogg & R. S. Tindale (eds.), Blackwell handbook in social psychology: Group processes, 1–30. Oxford: Blackwell.

  • Wilson, D. & D. Sperber. 1992. On verbal irony. Lingua 87. 53–76. doi:.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Wittenbaum, G. M. & G. Stasser. 1996. Management of information in small groups. In J. L. Nye & A. M. Brower (eds.), What’s social about social cognition, 3–28. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

  • Ziv, A. & O. Gadish. 1990. Humor and giftedness. Journal for the Education of the Gifted 13(4). 332–345. doi:.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
Purchase article
Get instant unlimited access to the article.
$42.00
Log in
Already have access? Please log in.


or
Log in with your institution

Journal + Issues

HUMOR, the official publication of the International Society for Humor Studies (ISHS), was established over 25 years ago as an international interdisciplinary forum for the publication of high-quality research papers on humor as an important and universal human faculty. The journal publishes original contributions in areas such as interdisciplinary humor research, humor theory, and humor research methodologies.

Search