An inferential/strategic explanation for the social organisation of teases

Janet Alberts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

71 Scopus citations


Previous work on teasing has examined the surface features of teasing interactions and has suggested that responses to teases are generally serious and are so because of the negative characterisations which are inherent in teases. The present study uses an inferential/strategic model for examining the social organisation of teases. Based on this analysis, it is argued that tease responses are formulated on the basis of the recipient's interpretation of the teaser's goal. It is claimed that tease recipients attempt to interpret the teaser's goal based on multiple clues to meaning. This interpretation then informs the type of response the recipient is likely to make: serious, humorous, or mixed. An analysis of teasing episodes revealed that there are three sources for clues to meaning: background knowledge, communciation content, and paralinguistic cues. This analysis attempts to provide a more encompassing explanation for the social organisation of teases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)153-177
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Language and Social Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1992

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Education
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Linguistics and Language


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