psychology notes.

This site was originally created in 2009 as a virtual repository for all of the various psychology and therapy-related things (quotes, articles, videos, music, pictures) I came across both online and in my work as a psychotherapist. It has morphed into something slightly different in the past four years, and is now perhaps slightly more outward facing, but is still at heart a place for me to collect and share things related to the life of the mind.


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Glenwright and Pexman presented five- to six-year-olds and nine- to ten-year-olds with puppet show scenarios that ended with one of the characters making a critical remark. This remark could be literal, aimed at a person or situation, or it could non-literal, again aimed either at a person (i.e. sarcastic) or situation (i.e. ironic). To illustrate: two puppets are playing on a trampoline, one falls on his face. ‘Great trampoline tricks,’ the other character says, sarcastically. Contrast this with two puppets playing on a saggy trampoline with little bounce. One of them says ‘great trampoline’, an ironic remark.

To gauge the children’s depth of understanding, the researchers asked them to rate how mean the utterances were (using a sliding scale of smiley to miserable faces) and asked them which character they most identified with - the idea being that in instances of sarcasm they would, out of sympathy, identify more with the target of that sarcasm.

The children’s responses showed that both age groups recognised the non-literal utterances as intending to mean the opposite of what was said. However, only the older age group showed a sensitivity to the difference between irony and sarcasm. They, but not the younger children, rated sarcastic utterances as meaner and were more likely to identify with the target of sarcasm, presumably out of sympathy. The older children’s comprehension was not complete, though. In open-ended questioning they were unable to explain their differential response to sarcasm and irony.

'By nine to ten years of age, children's sensitivity to the distinction between sarcasm and verbal irony highlights their impressive understanding of how people's feelings are affected by others' speech …' the researchers said. 'We investigated one distinction here, but there are other non-literal forms that should be examined, such as understatement and hyperbole.'

  1. love-justinnn reblogged this from psychotherapy
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    I’m 29 and I still have a hard time, lol.
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  9. windsday reblogged this from skeksis and added:
    Absolutely fascinating. In Language Development we learned that children actually don’t finish their linguistic...
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  11. skeksis reblogged this from psychotherapy and added:
    Oh hey this is my Prof, she really enjoyed the puppet shows.
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