Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science




Dr. Albert Katz


This thesis examines sarcasm in written dialogues between friends. Previous studies have

shown that the use of irony “mutes” a negative message, compared to a direct, literal counterpart (Dews & Winner, 1995). It is plausible, however, that with blatant aggressive sarcasm the negative communication would override any possible muting. We used a realistic conversational format that differs from traditional context building vignettes with sarcastic punch-lines. Male and female participants read the same dialogues between male-male and female-female friends and provided ratings of their impressions. Additionally, the participants were asked to produce continuations of the conversation. We find that muting effects exist in blatantly aggressive sarcastic dialogue compared to non-sarcastic equivalents. Additionally, the production task revealed no differences in the use o f sarcasm, countering the oft-cited prediction that males use more sarcasm than females. However, in line with some of the speculations on gender, female interlocutors within the dialogue were perceived more negatively when using sarcasm compared to male interlocutors in the same condition



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