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Wednesday, December 08, 2021

Telling Numbers: The emergence of humour in children, mapped by age

A new study has identified the earliest age when humour emerges, and how it typically builds in the first years of life.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi |
Updated: November 24, 2021 12:24:36 pm
The study on emergency of humour has been published in the journal Behavior Research Methods. (Source: Getty Images, File)

A new study has mapped young children’ ability, by age, to laugh and make jokes. Using data involving nearly 700 children from birth to 4 years of age, from around the world, the findings identify the earliest age when humour emerges, and how it typically builds in the first years of life. The study, led by University of Bristol researchers, has been published in the journal Behavior Research Methods.

The research team created a 20-question Early Humour Survey (EHS) and asked the parents of 671 children, aged 0 to 47 months from the UK, US, Australia, and Canada, to complete a five-minute survey about their child’s humour development.
Among the findings, as described in a press release from the University of Bristol:

1 Month: The earliest reported age that some children appreciated humour. An estimated 50% appreciated humour by 2 months, and 50% produced humour by 11 months. Once children produced humour, they did so often, with half of children having joked in the last 3 hours.

21: Number of different types of humour identified in the children surveyed. Children under 1 appreciated physical, visual and auditory forms of humour — hide and reveal games, tickling, funny faces, bodily humour (e.g., putting your head through your legs), and funny voices, the release said.

1-year-olds: They appreciated several types of humour that involved getting a reaction from others. This included teasing, showing hidden body parts (eg, taking off clothes), scaring others, and taboo topics (eg, toilet humour).

2-year-olds: Their humour reflected language development, including mislabelling, playing with concepts (eg, dogs say moo), and nonsense words. Children in this group were also found to appreciate making fun of others and aggressive humour (eg, pushing someone).

3-year-olds: They were found to play with social rules (eg, saying naughty words to be funny), and showed the beginnings of understanding tricks and puns.

The University of Bristol quoted lead author Dr Elena Hoicka as saying: “Our results highlight that humour is a complex, developing process in the first four years of life. Given its universality and importance in so many aspects of children’s and adults’ lives, it is important that we develop tools to determine how humour first develops so that we can further understand not only the emergence of humour itself, but how humour may help young children function cognitively, socially, and in terms of mental health.”

Source: University of Bristol

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