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Understanding of humorous intentions: A developmental approach

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter in a book

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMetapragmatics of Humor
Subtitle of host publicationCurrent research trends
Editors Leonor Ruiz-Gurillo
Publisher or commissioning bodyJohn Benjamins Publishing Company
ChapterPart 3; Chapter 1
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9789027266378
ISBN (Print)9789027240200
DatePublished - 24 Nov 2016

Publication series

NameIVITRA Research in Linguistics and Literature
PublisherJohn Benjamins Publishing Company
ISSN (Print)2211-5412


This paper demonstrates that children understand humor from an intentional perspective as young as 2 years. This is interesting from two vantage points. First, the research shows that children understand both humor and intentions separately before understanding humorous intentions, suggesting these two concepts are dissociable. However, the research presented suggests that understanding humorous intentions could be a gateway to understanding intentions in complex ways. Humor is the first type of non-literal communication that children understand from an intentional viewpoint, compared to pretending, lying, metaphor, and irony. Understanding humorous intentions may thus allow children to identify and practice understanding others’ mental states in increasingly complex ways.

    Research areas

  • intention, joke, humour, development, social cognition

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  • Full-text PDF (accepted author manuscript)

    Rights statement: This is the author accepted manuscript (AAM). The final published version (version of record) is available online via John Benjamins Publishing Company at Please refer to any applicable terms of use of the publisher.

    Accepted author manuscript, 181 KB, PDF document


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