Seeing bias in irony: How recipients infer speakers’ stereotypes from their ironic remarks about social-category members

Camiel J. Beukeboom*, Christian Burgers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

We study whether recipients draw inferences about speakers’ stereotypic impressions from their ironic (vs. literal) remarks. Following up on the Irony Bias, we conducted two experiments in which participants were exposed (in writing or sound-recording) to only either literal remarks or irony referring to either positive or negative behaviors of an unknown social category. Results of both experiments show that participants recognize speakers’ biased impressions from their pattern of irony use. When speakers made ironic remarks about category members’ positive behaviors (but not about negative behaviors), participants inferred that speakers had a more negative impression of the category, and that they perceived higher essentialism of negative (vs. positive) behaviors. The impression participants perceived in speakers’ biased communication pattern did not translate to participants’ own reported category impression. We discuss various factors that may determine when a recognized stereotypic view in a speaker contributes to the formation and maintenance of stereotypic impressions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1085-1102
JournalGroup Processes and Intergroup Relations
Volume23
Issue number7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Keywords

  • irony bias
  • linguistic bias
  • social categorization
  • stereotypes
  • verbal irony

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