The ability to distinguish hidden mockery is formed by the age of eight years.
Canadian researchers from the University of Calgary have discovered that the better the child feels the other person, the easier he/she will recognize sarcasm. This usually occurs between the ages of 6 and 8 years, especially with simple phrases like “Well, thank you,” “Excellent!” etc.
Scientists observed the children aged 8-9 years, who were given the task to identify sarcasm in various scenes, played with toys. There were 31 participants in the group, and they had to choose the “greedy” shark or a “sweet” duck, if, in their opinion, they spoke sarcastically during the scenes. Each child was tested 12 times, using a variety of toys and scenarios. Empathic ability of the participants or, in other words, their ability to empathize with other people, was measured separately.
In general, the participants of the study guessed sarcasm in half of the cases. The children with high levels of empathy did it more accurately. They were twice as likely to indicate true characters that used sarcasm. In the group of 6 and 7-year-olds, all the participants had zero precision of performing the task.