Early humour production

Elena Hoicka, Nameera Akhtar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

62 Citations (Scopus)


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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)586-603
JournalBritish Journal of Developmental Psychology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2012

Structured keywords

  • SoE Centre for Psychological Approaches for Studying Education


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