Scientists' explanation of the Shark/Duck Task: To see if children understand sarcasm, we present short puppet shows about everyday events (like a soccer game), in which one puppet says something sarcastic to the other puppet, like “That was a great play”. A camera placed behind the experimenter tracks the child’s eye gaze as the child decides whether what the puppet said was sarcastic.
If the child thinks the speaker was being mean (sarcastic), he or she chooses the shark and puts it in the answer box. If the child thinks the speaker was being nice (literal) he or she chooses the duck and puts it in the answer box. By tracking the children’s eyes, we can figure out what the children are thinking about when they are making their decision about what the puppet said.