Open Access

Zing Zing Bang Bang: How Do You Know What She Really Meant. Gender Bias in Response to Irony: The Role of Who is Speaking to Whom


Literature points towards the role of context in irony interpretation and the existence of gender differences in language use. We decided to examine the influence of interlocutors’ gender stereotypes on interpreting and reacting to ironic criticism in conversation. To this end, we designed two experiments gathering participants’ responses to the same ironic utterances voiced both by women and by men in control and gender stereotype activation conditions. Results of the first experiment showed that women tended to use irony significantly more often when responding to a man than to another woman. The second, ongoing experiment will additionally examine participants’ response times and total time of utterance in respect to their addressee’s gender. The results are discussed with regard to the social comparison theory (Turner, Hogg, Oakes, Reicher, & Wetherell, 1987) and the linguistic intergroup bias theory (Wigboldus & Douglas, 2007).

Publication timeframe:
Volume Open
Journal Subjects:
Social Sciences, Psychology, Applied Psychology