The Birth of Comedy: Where Does Humour Come From?
For the first time, researchers have mapped the development of humour across children up to the age of four, with some interesting results.
For the first time, researchers have mapped the development of humour across children up to the age of four, with some interesting results
Humour is an essential part of life. It makes us laugh, it makes us smile, it just makes all of our days so much better. But how exactly does humour develop in children? Are we simply born with it? Or, if not, when exactly do we develop the ability to laugh and make jokes?
New research coming out of the University of Bristol’s School of Education set out to answer these questions.
What Were The Results?
In research that examined almost 700 children from around the world, the team mapped the ability of the children to understand and produce humour. The team made some amazing discoveries:
- The earliest reported age to appreciate comedy was 1 month old
- 50% of the children studied appreciated it by the age of 2 months old
- 50% of the children produced humour by the age of 11 months old
- Once started, children will produce humour often, with over 50% of the children having joked in the past 3 hours prior to being studied
Mapping Humour Development
21 different types of humour were discovered by the research team. However, what’s more astonishing is the fact that these different types of humour were able to be mapped across the children’s development.
Under One Years of Age
Children under one responded well to physical, visual, and auditory comedy. Think peekaboo, funny voices, or making faces.
One Year Olds
One year olds developed an appreciation for comedy that elicits a reaction. Teasing or scaring/surprising others were very much in vogue.
Two Year Olds
These children developed comedy based on their developing language skills. Nonsensical words and purposefully mislabelling things are now on the menu. Interestingly, this age group also developed more malicious senses of humour, with violence now being deemed funny in some cases (think pushing somebody over as opposed to anything truly violent).
Three Year Olds
Finally, this age group developed an ability to toy with typical social rules. Rude words, tricks, and puns were now on the menu.
This type of humour mapping has never been achieved in children this young before, and tells us a lot about the development of humour in humans. This work could also be immensely important in helping to diagnose certain developmental disorders early in children.
To read the entire research article, click here.
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