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Evidence for Diverse Forms of Sarcasm


Sarcasm is a difficult concept to define accurately and completely and is similarly hard to identify in natural communication. In three works, this dissertation develops a deeper understanding of sarcasm, both as a concept and as a phenomenon. Using a computational approach, I describe novel markers of sarcasm that function as signals for the reader to pause, wait, or slow down, and show that they are often copresent with sarcastic content. Using experimental methods, I show that although sarcasm can be elicited in the laboratory at high levels, agreement on what statements are sarcastic is extremely unreliable. Finally, using a qualitative approach, I ask participants to modify statements to make them sarcastic, and consider the strategies they report using, as well as their success at doing so. Overall, my results suggest that sarcasm is an extremely diverse phenomenon, and that future research should adjust its focus to use a broader view of sarcasm, rather than using a specific definition.

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