Understanding of humorous intentions: A developmental approach

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

Publication series

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

Structured keywords

  • SoE Centre for Psychological Approaches for Studying Education


  • intention
  • joke
  • humour
  • development
  • social cognition


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