Understanding irony presents a challenging pragmatic ability, as it involves conveying a meaning opposite to the literal words used. Irony plays an important role in everyday communication and impairments in irony comprehension can have negative consequences in social interaction.

More information about the project

PragIro systematically investigates children’s irony comprehension in German using the innovative research method LEIRO (Leipzig Kit for Testing Irony Comprehension), which we developed specifically for this project. LEIRO combines eye-tracking (eye movements and pupillometry) with child-friendly object choice tasks.

Across three sub-projects, we will examine the developmental trajectory of irony acquisition from initial, implicit comprehension to fully-developed, explicit irony comprehension in German. In addition, the relevant individual socio-cognitive and environmental factors in irony comprehension at different ages will be investigated.

  • Subproject A focuses on typical acquisition, putting the widely accepted thesis of very late irony comprehension to the test.
  • Subproject B examines irony comprehension in children with autism spectrum disorder. The thesis that children with autism spectrum disorder are massively impaired in irony comprehension is subjected to rigorous investigation.
  • Subproject C addresses irony comprehension in children with ADHD. Initial findings from previous studies indicate that children with ADHD show impairments in irony comprehension, although questions regarding the exact circumstances (delayed acquisition or completely deviant acquisition) and their potential causes are still unresolved.

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