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Title: Humour and intention understanding in 18- to 36-month-old toddlers
Author: Hoicka, Elena
ISNI:       0000 0004 2749 3319
Awarding Body: Cardiff University
Current Institution: Cardiff University
Date of Award: 2006
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This thesis investigated whether 18-36 month olds understand humour and humorous intentions. Also investigated was whether parents use vocal acoustic and verbal cues to indicate that a joke was intended. 1. Unambiguous physical jokes and mistakes accompanied by intentional cues (laughter, Woops!) were demonstrated to 19-36 month olds. Toddlers of all ages distinguished unambiguous jokes and mistakes by copying jokes and correcting mistakes. Ambiguous physical actions interpretable either as jokes or mistakes were demonstrated. Toddlers saw half of these actions with a humorous intentional marker (laughter), and the other half with an accidental marker (Woops!). Only 25-30 and 31-36 month olds differentiated humorous intentions and mistakes by copying actions marked with laughter and correcting actions marked with Woops! 2. In a two-part study, parents read storybooks with humorous, sweet, and neutral pages to their 18-26 month olds. Target book sentences were measured for speech rate, intonation contours, and mean, standard deviation, and range of both fundamental frequency and amplitude. Humorous sentences displayed unique vocal acoustic patterns (versus neutral and sweet sentences). 3. Parents read a book containing humorous and non-humorous pages to their 19-26 month olds. Parents used significantly more high abstraction extra-textual utterances (ETUs) and significantly less low abstraction ETUs when reading the humorous pages. Parents read either a humorous or non-humorous book to their 18-24 month olds. Parents reading the funny book made significantly more ETUs encouraging disbelief of prior utterances. These findings indicate that toddlers understand humour by at least 19 months, and humorous intentions by 25 months. This is the earliest known age at which children understand that other can intend to do the wrong thing (versus pretense, lying, metaphor, etc.) The acoustic and verbal cues given by parents could help toddlers, (1) notice that a joke was said, and (2) understand what the joke was.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available