Study Says You’re Not Funny

    June 26, 2006
    WebProNews Staff

It’s nice when a study comes out confirming what you already know. A study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology revealed that just over half of email recipients were able to discern sarcasm within the text.

Humor, either because of the sender’s lack of comedic timing or the failure of the recipient to get the joke, doesn’t appear to be easily passed on in general. The problem is, according to the study, the reader’s egocentric projections on what is read.

Without the nonverbal clues like facial movements and hand gestures, and verbal clues like intonation and inflection, it can be difficult enough to ascertain the true intention of the writer. But also, the reader’s frame of mind can affect the reading as well, adding a tone to the internal dialogue that may not be appreciated.

Only 56% of study participants could tell if an email was sarcastic. From another angle in the study, participants were asked to write what they believed to be humorous emails and rate them on a scale of 1-10.

They were to rate them based on how funny they thought the content was as well as how funny they thought the recipient would find it. Senders rated their jokes a little over 8 from their perspective and thought recipients would rate them over 7. Recipients rated them a little more than 3.5.

The researchers believe that the absence of “paralinguistic clues” also contributes to chat fights and flame wars, and may even be more susceptible to troubles than email.

Chat rooms, instant messaging, text-based gaming environments-all have been touted for their superiority to asynchronous text media such as e-mail because of the dynamic nature of the discourse and ability to provide rapid feedback. But because these synchronous media are largely text-based, there likely remains a rift between the subjective stimuli available to the communicator and the objective stimuli available to the audience that communicators may fail to fully appreciate. In fact, we suspect the synchronous and rapid nature of these mediums may actually increase the rift between senders and receivers.

Via Collision Detection


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