Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts




Whereas typically developing adults tend to show processing differences for ironic versus literal language, recent research has demonstrated that adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder do not show a difference. Building on these findings, the present study examined whether similar effects would emerge in a sample of college students who were assessed on autistic personality traits. Through an eye tracking during reading experiment, participants read sentence contexts in which factors of emotional language, ironic versus literal language, and sentence perspective were manipulated. Results showed that participants who had a low degree of autistic traits somewhat replicated the two-stage processing model of ironic language, meaning that they initially expected ironic criticism to be perceived or intended as hurtful, but then eventually expected this criticism to be amusing instead. Participants who had a high degree of autistic traits did not show the same evidence of two-stage processing for ironic language, suggesting that they may have similar processing patterns as people with Autism Spectrum Disorder. The results provide evidence that differences in the processing of ironic language exist on a continuum that can be at least partially explained by taking into account autistic personality traits.