Early humour production


Elena Hoicka, Psychology Department, School of Natural Sciences, University of Stirling, Stirling, FK9 4LA, UK (e-mail: elena.hoicka@stir.ac.uk).


The current studies explored early humour as a complex socio-cognitive phenomenon by examining 2- and 3-year-olds’ humour production with their parents. We examined whether children produced novel humour, whether they cued their humour, and the types of humour produced. Forty-seven parents were interviewed, and videotaped joking with their children. Other parents (N= 113) completed a survey. Parents reported children copy jokes during the first year of life, and produce novel jokes from 2 years. In play sessions, 3-year-olds produced mostly novel humorous acts; 2-year-olds produced novel and copied humorous acts equally frequently. Parents reported children smile, laugh, and look for a reaction when joking. In play sessions, 2- and 3-year-olds produced these behaviours more when producing humorous versus non-humorous acts. In both parent reports and play sessions, they produced novel object-based (e.g., underwear on head) and conceptual humour (e.g., ‘pig says moo’) and used wrong labels humorously (e.g., calling a cat a dog). Thus, parent report and child behaviour both confirm that young children produce novel humorous acts, and share their humour by smiling, laughing, and looking for a reaction.