We often think of sarcasm as a way to be mean—and it usually is. For instance, sarcasm has been shown to be victimizing, offensive, and anger-provoking to its targets (Toplak & Katz 2000, Bowes & Katz 2011). However, the reported valence (or emotional value) of sarcasm improves dramatically when two members of a conversation share some common ground (knowledge, perceptions & experiences), becoming more appropriate ( Kreuz, Kassler, Coppenrath, & Allen 1999), understandable (Pexman & Zvaigzne 2004), and memorable (Gibbs 1986). To test the hypothesis that the balanced use of sarcasm can similarly improve its valence, we examined differences in pragmatic uses and impressions of sarcastic dialogues, with either a balanced (two sarcastic speakers) or unbalanced (one sarcastic speaker) use of sarcasm. We conclude that a history of sarcasm in a relationship does not reduce its negative valence.
Mounts, Joel, "A History of Sarcasm: Effects of Balanced Use of Sarcasm in a Relationship" (2012). Honors Projects. Paper 155.