"Peek-a-boo!": Determining the Latency to Laughter in the Case of Three Different Jokes Within Infants Aged Six to Eighteen Months
by Sophie Stumacher
Category: Humanities and Social Sciences
Abstract – Laughter is universally experienced by humans, and infants usually begin exhibiting this behavior at three months. By understanding laughter, we can strengthen the important relationship between a parent and their child. Because of this importance, scientists have investigated infant humor perception based on parental affect, social referencing, etc. Thus far, infant response time to a joke, or the latency period, has not been explored. Strengthening our understanding of the latency period allows us to predict what factors may lead to laughter the quickest. This study is one of the first of its kind to investigate whether the latency period varies depending on age and joke type. Parental perception of their child’s laughter responses was also investigated. The current work focused on three joke types: absurd (Not-A-Hat), conceptual (Peek-a-boo), and uncategorized (Tearing Paper). Participants were aged 6-18 months. It was found that the conceptual joke (Peek a-boo) had a significantly shorter latency time than the other joke types (x̄ = 1.46s, p<0.001). In addition, infants aged 12-18 months obtained a longer latency time than those aged 6-12 months (x̄ = 1.91s, p>0.05), although the difference was not significant. This study can help scientists predict patterns about what infants are more likely to laugh at, and help parents determine the quickest way to elicit laughter at different developmental stages. As laughter is one of the first forms of vocal communication, this study is vital for parents, so they can better nurture a secure attachment to their child.