This study explored irony understanding in school-age children, when the irony is used in two different family relations: between a child and the child’s mother and between a child and a sibling. Two irony task typologies were used to assess 6-, 8-, and 10-year-olds’ understanding of the intended and expressed meanings (Study 1: N 1⁄4 77; Study 2: N 1⁄4 30). Results proved that the relationship with the mother, more than the relationship with a sibling, supported children’s irony understanding. A predictive effect of second-order false-belief understanding on irony comprehension was also found. The findings support the hypothesis that the irony understanding, at least in the acquisition phase, depends on the relational contexts in which it is used. The predictive effect of second-order recursive thinking confirms and extends the role of theory of mind in the management of ironic communication.
- theory of mind