The Effect of Sociocultural Variables on Sarcasm Communication Online

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Online social networks (OSN) play an essential role for connecting people and allowing them to communicate online. OSN users share their thoughts, moments, and news with their network. The messages they share online can include sarcastic posts, where the intended meaning expressed by the written text is different from the literal one. This could result in miscommunication. Previous research in psycholinguistics has studied the sociocultural factors the might lead to sarcasm misunderstanding between speakers and listeners. However, there is a lack of such studies in the context of OSN. In this paper we fill this gap by performing a quantitative analysis on the influence of sociocultural variables, including gender, age, country, and English language nativeness, on the effectiveness of sarcastic communication online. We collect examples of sarcastic tweets directly from the authors who posted them. Further, we ask third-party annotators of different sociocultural backgrounds to label these tweets for sarcasm. Our analysis indicates that age, English language nativeness, and country are significantly influential and should be considered in the design of future social analysis tools that either study sarcasm directly, or look at related phenomena where sarcasm may have an influence. We also make observations about the social ecology surrounding sarcastic exchanges on OSNs. We conclude by suggesting ways in which our findings can be included in future work.
Original languageEnglish
Article number29
Number of pages22
JournalProceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction
Issue numberCSCW1
Publication statusPublished - 28 May 2020
EventThe 23rd ACM Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing - Online conference
Duration: 17 Oct 202021 Oct 2020
Conference number: 23


  • sarcasm
  • online communication
  • sociocultural background
  • social media


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