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Study finds that people struggle to detect sarcasm in emails


People think that 97% of the time their sarcastic comments in emails would be detected by those that read it. The truth is that only 84% of sarcastic statements in emails are picked up on.

This is the finding of research done by the Journal of Personal Social Psychology and highlighted by the Discover blog.

“Because e-mail communicators “hear” a statement differently depending on whether they intend to be, say, sarcastic or funny, it can be difficult to appreciate that their electronic audience may not.” It explains.

Rsearchers asked people to come up with two one-sentence emails about a topic. They were:

I do not like first dates.

I really enjoy dating because I like feeling as self conscious and inadequate as possible.

Then they asked people to anticipate how a receiver would interpret their sentences. Finally, they had the receiver interpret the sentences as sarcastic, or not. People thought that 97% of their sarcastic sentences would be obvious to the other person. That was only true about 84% of the time, and they put this down to egocentrism.



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