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Mireault, G. et al. (2015) Laughing matters: Infant humor in the context of parental affect (Journal Article)

Abstract:

Smiling and laughing appear very early during the first year of life, but little is known about how infants come to appraise a stimulus as humorous. This short-term longitudinal study explored infant humor perception from 5 to 7months of age as a function of parental affect during an absurd event. Using a within-participants design, parents alternated smiling/laughing with emotional neutrality while acting absurdly toward their infants. Group comparisons showed that infants (N=37) at all ages smiled at the event regardless of parental affect but did so significantly longer at 5 and 6months, and more often and sooner at 7months, when parents provided humor cues. Similarly, sequential analyses revealed that after gazing at the event, 7-month-olds were more likely to smile at it only when parents provided humor cues and were comparatively more likely to look away when parents were neutral. Thus, starting at 5months of age, parental affect influenced infants’ affect toward an absurd event, an effect that was magnified at 7months. These results are discussed in the context of emotional contagion, regulation, and the emergence of social referencing.

Date:
January 2015
Volume:
136
Page/s:
30-41
Synonyms:
  • Developmental outcomes
  • Humour
  • Longitudinal
  • Parent/Guardian play
  • Play with Mother
  • Social cognition
  • Social play
  • Social-emotional
Relevant age group/s:
Research discipline:

Thibodeau, R. et al. (2016) The effects of fantastical pretend-play on the development of executive functions: An intervention study (Journal Article)

Abstract:

Although recent correlational studies have found a relationship between fantasy orientation (FO; i.e., a child’s propensity to play in a fantastical realm) and higher order cognitive skills called executive functions (EFs), no work has addressed the causality and directionality of this relationship. The current study experimentally examined the directionality of the observed relationship between FO and EF development in preschool-aged children through an innovative play intervention employing a randomized controlled design. A sample of 110 children between the ages of 3 and 5years were randomly assigned to one of three conditions: fantastical pretend-play intervention, non-imaginative play intervention, or business-as-usual control. Results revealed that children who participated in a 5-week fantastical pretend-play intervention showed improvements in EFs, whereas children in the other two conditions did not. Within the fantastical pretend-play condition, children who were highly engaged in the play and those who were highly fantastical demonstrated the greatest gains in EFs. These data provide evidence for the equifinal relationship between fantasy-oriented play and EF development, such that engaging in fantasy-oriented play may be one of many ways to directly enhance EF development.

Date:
January 2016
Volume:
145
Page/s:
120-138
Synonyms:
  • Developmental outcomes
  • Experimental
  • Pretend play
  • Executive function
Relevant age group/s:
Research discipline: