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Title: The development of laughter
Author: Cohen, David
Awarding Body: University of London
Current Institution: Royal Holloway, University of London
Date of Award: 1985
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The development of laughter is little understood even though it is an area of human behaviour that long intrigued psychologists and philosophers. A framework for understanding is required. With guidance from existing literature, observational data is used to develop such a framework. It is argued that no one single approach can, in principle, explain the phenomenon. Laughter occurs in too varied situations for it to be possible to claim that it is due to one single cause. Moreover, laboratory studies usually require subjects to laugh at 'funny' stimuli on cue. As a result, they have focussed on responsive laughter rather than on the conditions under which subjects try to make others laugh. Given this background, observational data is useful. In this study observational data from a longitudinal study of two children and from a study of children in a playgroup are used to argue that very young children not only laugh responsively but also create occasions for their own laughter. Moreover, while their ability to laugh develops in many ways linked to their cognitive and social development, they can still laugh at the kinds of situations that made them laugh when they were very young. It is concluded that observations have helpfully added to ways in which the development of laughter has been conceptualised. It is also suggested that some observations of laughter in young children have implications for research on how young children are capable of intentional behaviour.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Developmental Psychology