Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Researchers have studied counterfactual statements, such as "There's not a cloud in the sky!" uttered during a violent thunderstorm, both as instances of irony (Jorgensen, Miller & Sperber, 1984; Kreuz & Glucksberg, 1989; Katz & Lee, 1993) and as instances of sarcasm (Gibbs, 1986; Kreuz & Glucksberg, 1989). It is not surprising that some terms are used inconsistently in a young field of investigation such as the psycholinguistics of irony and sarcasm. However. the inconsistent use of the terms irony and sarcasm across different empirical studies is problematic when research participants are asked to judge whether or not counterfactual statements that they read are good examples of the term selected by the researcher. Indeed, to make meaningful inferences from the results of these empirical studies, it is necessary to accept the assumption that irony and sarcasm are different terms for the same psychological construct. The purpose of this dissertation was to test this assumption that irony and sarcasm are, in fact, terms for the same psychological construct. Two experiments were conducted. In experiment one, it was found that the construct associated with sarcasm was affected by a speaker's use of different types of echoic mention whereas the construct associated with irony was not affected. In experiment two, it was found that irony and sarcasm are used differentially with respect to the concept of victim. These findings demonstrate that the terms irony and sarcasm are not interchangeable with regard to their psychological meaning.



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