Lower, slower, louder: Vocal cues of sarcasm

  • Rockwell P
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Previous studies have examined verbal rather than vocal aspects of irony. The present study considers how vocal features may cue listeners to one form of irony—sarcasm. Speakers were recorded reading sentences in three conditions (nonsarcasm, spontaneous sarcasm, posed sarcasm) with the resulting utterances filtered to remove verbal content. Listeners (n = 127) then rated these filtered utterances on amount of sarcasm. Results indicated that listeners were able to discriminate posed sarcasm from nonsarcasm but not spontaneous sarcasm from nonsarcasm. An analysis of the vocal features of the utterances as determined by perceptual coding indicated that a slower tempo, greater intensity, and a lower pitch level were significant indicators of sarcasm.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Irony
  • Nonverbal behavior
  • Sarcasm
  • Vocal cues

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  • Patricia Rockwell

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