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A Picture IS Worth 1000 Words . . . November 18, 2011

Posted by nrhatch in Art & Photography, Happiness, Humor, Life Balance.
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Are You Serious? November 18, 2011

Posted by nrhatch in Health & Wellness, Humor, Mindfulness, People.
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How’s your Sarcasm Detector?

Are you able to detect statements dripping with sarcasm?  Or do they fly under your radar?

Do you accept everything people say “literally” . . . or do you use your creative problem solving skills to look for clues to sarcasm’s subtle deception?

According to a recent article in Smithsonian.com, “researchers from linguists to psychologists to neurologists have been studying our ability to perceive snarky remarks and gaining new insights into how the mind works.” 

From The Science of Sarcasm? Yeah, Right:

* Studies have shown that exposure to sarcasm enhances creative problem solving.  Children understand and use sarcasm by the time they get to kindergarten. An inability to understand sarcasm may be an early warning sign of brain disease.

* Sarcasm seems to exercise the brain more than sincere statements do. Scientists who have monitored the electrical activity of the brains of test subjects exposed to sarcastic statements have found that brains have to work harder to understand sarcasm.

* While the left hemisphere of the brain seems to be responsible for interpreting literal statements, the right hemisphere and both frontal lobes seem to be involved in figuring out when the literal statement is intended to mean exactly the opposite, according to a study by researchers at the University of Haifa.

* The mental gymnastics needed to perceive sarcasm includes developing a “theory of mind” to see beyond the literal meaning of the words and understand that the speaker may be thinking of something entirely different. A theory of mind allows you to realize that when your brother says “nice job” when you spill the milk, he means just the opposite, the jerk.

* Sarcastic statements are sort of a true lie. You’re saying something you don’t literally mean, and the communication works as intended only if your listener gets that you’re insincere. Sarcasm has a two-faced quality: it’s both funny and mean. This dual nature has led to contradictory theories on why we use it.

To read more:   The Science of Sarcasm? Yeah, Right.

How often do you rely on sarcasm in your daily encounters?  Do you reach for sarcasm more often in interactions with friends?  Or strangers?

Have you noticed any regional differences in how people interpret sarcasm? 

Related post:  A Touch of Sarcasm