On the communicative function of exaggeration: How to be a million times clearer


Three experiments tested whether manipulating the degree of exaggeration affects either the effectiveness or the clarity of the communicative goal “to be humorous.” In Experiment 1, level of exaggeration had no effect on ratings of how funny a statement was. In Experiment 2, highly exaggerated statements resulted in significantly higher ratings of how likely a speaker was trying to be funny than either somewhat exaggerated or not exaggerated statements. In Experiment 3, the findings of Experiment 2 were replicated, but a manipulation of prototypicality of exaggeration had no effect. These experiments indicate that extreme exaggeration more clearly conveys what a speaker's intended communicative goal is, but does not increase the speaker's effectiveness in achieving that communicative goal. © 2003, Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.

Publication Title

Communication Research Reports