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Definition

Humour is talk or actions designed to provoke amusement or laughter. In children it emerges as behaviours which provoke laughter in parents or caregivers. This develops into teasing, joking around or other physical actions such as tickling, making funny noises, or pretend chasing. It can often be slapstick at early ages, and once language emerges verbal humour will develop that involves nonsense words, onomatopoeia, puns, wordplay and so on.

Bateson, P. et al. (2013) Play, Playfulness, Creativity and Innovation (Book)

Abstract:

What roles do playful behaviour and playful thought take in animal
and human development? How does play relate to creativity and, in
turn, to innovation?
Unravelling the different meanings of play, this book focuses on
non-aggressive playful play. The authors emphasise its significance for
development and evolution, before examining the importance of
playfulness in creativity. This discussion sheds new light on the links
between creativity and innovation, distinguishing between the
generation of novel behaviour and ideas on the one hand, and the
implementation of these novelties on the other. The authors then turn
to the role of play in the development of the child and to parallels
among play, humour and dreaming, along with the altered states of
consciousness generated by some psychoactive drugs. A final chapter
looks ahead to future research and to what remains to be discovered in this fascinating and important field.

Author/s:
Date:
January 2013
Publisher or Journal:
Volume:
Page/s:
Synonyms:
  • Creativity
  • Games with rules
  • Humour
  • Playfulness
  • Social play
  • Well-being outcomes
Relevant age group/s:
Research discipline:

Esseily, R. et al. (2016) Humour production may enhance observational learning of a new tool-use action in 18-month-old infants (Journal Article)

Abstract:

Many studies have shown that making children laugh enhances certain cognitive capacities such as attention, motivation, perception and/or memory, which in turn enhance learning. However, no study thus far has investigated whether laughing has an effect on learning earlier in infancy. The goal of this study was to see whether using humour with young infants in a demonstration of a complex tool-use task can enhance their learning. Fifty-three 18-month-old infants participated in this study and were included either in a humorous or a control demonstration group. In both groups infants observed an adult using a tool to retrieve an out-of-reach toy. What differed between groups was that in the humorous demonstration group, instead of playing with the toy, the adult threw it on the floor immediately after retrieval. The results show that infants who laughed at the demonstration in the humorous demonstration group reproduced significantly more frequent target actions than infants who did not laugh and those in the control group. This effect is discussed with regard to individual differences in terms of temperament and social capacities as well as positive emotion and dopamine release.

Date:
January 2016
Publisher or Journal:
Volume:
30
Page/s:
817-825
Synonyms:
  • Developmental outcomes
  • Humour
  • Learning
Relevant age group/s:
Research discipline:

Fromberg, D. et al. (2006) Play from Birth to Twelve (Book)

Abstract:

In light of recent standards-based and testing movements, the issue of play in childhood has taken on increased meaning for educational professionals and social scientists. This second edition of Play From Birth to Twelve offers comprehensive coverage of what we now know about play, its guiding principles, its dynamics and importance in early learning. These up-to-date essays, written by some of the most distinguished experts in the field, help students explore:
all aspects of play, including new approaches not yet covered in the literature
how teachers in various classroom situations set up and guide play to facilitate learning
how play is affected by societal violence, media reportage, technological innovations and other contemporary issues
which areas of play have been studied adequately and which require further research.

Date:
January 2006
Publisher or Journal:
Volume:
Page/s:
Synonyms:
  • Cultural context
  • Developmental outcomes
  • Games with rules
  • Humour
  • Language
  • Learning
  • Object play
  • Outdoor play
  • Peers play
  • Physical play
  • Pretend play
  • Social play
  • Social-emotional

Gray, P. (2009) Play as a foundation for hunter-gatherer social existence (Journal Article)

Abstract:
Author/s:
Date:
January 2009
Publisher or Journal:
Volume:
1
Page/s:
476–522
Synonyms:
  • Developmental outcomes
  • Free play
  • Games with rules
  • Humour
  • Literature review
  • Physical play
  • Playfulness
  • Pretend play
  • Pro-social behaviour
  • Social-emotional
Relevant age group/s:
Research discipline:

Hoicka, E. et al. (2012) Early humour production (Journal Article)

Abstract:

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.

Author/s:
Date:
January 2012
Volume:
30
Page/s:
586–603
Synonyms:
  • Developmental outcomes
  • Humour
  • Parent/Guardian play
  • Social cognition
  • Social-emotional
Relevant age group/s:
Research discipline:

Hoicka, E. et al. (2016) Parents Produce Explicit Cues That Help Toddlers Distinguish Joking and Pretending (Journal Article)

Abstract:

While separate pieces of research found parents offer toddlers cues to express that they are (1) joking and (2) pretending, and that toddlers and preschoolers understand intentions to (1) joke and (2) pretend, it is not yet clear whether parents and toddlers consider joking and pretending to be distinct concepts. This is important as distinguishing these two forms of non-literal acts could open a gateway to understanding the complexities of the non-literal world, as well as the complexities of intentions in general. Two studies found parents offer explicit cues to help 16- to 24-month-olds distinguish pretending and joking. Across an action play study (n = 25) and a verbal play study (n = 40) parents showed more disbelief and less belief through their actions and language when joking versus pretending. Similarly, toddlers showed less belief through their actions, and older toddlers showed less belief through their language. Toddlers' disbelief could be accounted for by their response to parents' language and actions. Thus, these studies reveal a mechanism by which toddlers learn to distinguish joking and pretending. Parents offer explicit cues to distinguish these intentions, and toddlers use these cues to guide their own behaviors, which in turn allows toddlers to distinguish these intentional contexts.

Author/s:
Date:
January 2016
Publisher or Journal:
Volume:
40
Page/s:
941-971
Synonyms:
  • Developmental outcomes
  • Humour
  • Parent/Guardian play
  • Pretend play
  • Social cognition
  • Social-emotional
Relevant age group/s:
Research discipline:

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:

Panksepp, J. et al. (2003) “Laughing” rats and the evolutionary antecedents of human joy? (Journal Article)

Abstract:

Paul MacLean's concept of epistemics—the neuroscientific study of subjective experience—requires animal brain research that can be related to predictions concerning the internal experiences of humans. Especially robust relationships come from studies of the emotional/affective processes that arise from subcortical brain systems shared by all mammals. Recent affective neuroscience research has yielded the discovery of play- and tickle-induced ultrasonic vocalization patterns (∼50-kHz chirps) in rats may have more than a passing resemblance to primitive human laughter. In this paper, we summarize a dozen reasons for the working hypothesis that such rat vocalizations reflect a type of positive affect that may have evolutionary relations to the joyfulness of human childhood laughter commonly accompanying social play. The neurobiological nature of human laughter is discussed, and the relevance of such ludic processes for understanding clinical disorders such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorders (ADHD), addictive urges and mood imbalances are discussed.

Date:
January 2003
Publisher or Journal:
Volume:
79
Page/s:
533-547
Synonyms:
  • Developmental outcomes
  • Humour
  • Physical play
  • Rough and tumble
  • Social-emotional
Relevant age group/s:
Research discipline:

Panksepp, J. et al. (2014) Preclinical Modeling of Primal Emotional Affects (SEEKING, PANIC and PLAY): Gateways to the Development of New Treatments for Depression (Journal Article)

Abstract:

Mammalian brains contain at least 7 primal emotional sys- tems – SEEKING, RAGE, FEAR, LUST, CARE, PANIC and PLAY (capitalization reflects a proposed primary-process terminol- ogy, to minimize semantic confusions and mereological falla- cies). These systems help organisms feel affectively balanced (e.g. euthymic) and unbalanced (e.g. depressive, irritable, manic), providing novel insights for understanding human psychopathologies. Three systems are especially important for understanding depression: The separation distress (PAN- IC) system mediates the psychic pain of separation distress (i.e. excessive sadness and grief), which can be counteracted by minimizing PANIC arousals (as with low-dose opioids). De- pressive dysphoria also arises from reduced brain reward- seeking and related play urges (namely diminished enthusi- asm (SEEKING) and joyful exuberance (PLAY) which promote sustained amotivational states). We describe how an under- standing of these fundamental emotional circuits can pro- mote the development of novel antidepressive therapeutics – (i) low-dose buprenorphine to counteract depression and suicidal ideation emanating from too much psychic pain (PANIC overarousal), (ii) direct stimulation of the SEEKING sys- tem to counteract amotivational dysphoria, and (iii) the dis- covery and initial clinical testing of social-joy-promoting mol- ecules derived from the analysis of the PLAY system.

Date:
January 2014
Publisher or Journal:
Volume:
47
Page/s:
383-393
Synonyms:
  • Experimental
  • Humour
  • Mental health
  • Physical play
  • Rough and tumble
  • Social play
  • Well-being outcomes
Relevant age group/s:
Research discipline:

PEDAL, . et al. (2019) PEDAL Seminar: Toddlers Think for Themselves! (Video Recording)

Abstract:

Social learning has been a large focus of early developmental psychology for the past three decades. While it reveals how culture is transmitted to young children, questions about how young children come up with their own ideas and learn for themselves have been largely ignored.

This talk, with Dr Elena Hoicka from the University of Bristol, will present research showing that toddlers can be creative and come up with their own ideas. Elena will focus on toddlers' creation of their own novel jokes and pretending, and toddlers' divergent thinking with novel objects.

Author/s:
Date:
January 2019
Publisher or Journal:
Volume:
Page/s:
Synonyms:
  • Creativity
  • Developmental outcomes
  • Humour
  • Language
  • Pretend play
  • Problem-solving
  • Symbolic play
Relevant age group/s: