Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science




Dr. Albert Katz


Previous studies have demonstrated that ironic criticism can either dilute or enhance a message and that it may provide a mnemonic advantage. This thesis investigated whether irony dilutes or enhances ironic criticism as a function of contrast or speaker orientation (whether an interpreter concentrates on speaker intention or social impact). Participants were asked to interpret the functions of direct and ironic criticisms in short written scenarios which each described a friendly conversation (study 1) or an argument (study 2) between close, same gender friends. Ratings of ironic criticism were not dependent on either contrast or interpreter orientation, nor was there evidence of a mnemonic advantage for ironic expression. Irony caused criticism to appear more mocking (enhancing the criticism of the message), while simultaneously causing the message to appear more humorous, polite, and less negative than direct expression (diluting negative regard in the message). Theoretical implications are discussed



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.