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ERIC Number: ED076231
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1973-Mar
Pages: 17
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
Development of Resolution in Children's Appreciation of Humor.
Shultz, Thomas R.
The theory of a number of philosophers and psychologists, including Freud, is that humor is a biphasic sequence involving first the discovery of incongruity and then the resolution of the incongruity. Without the mechanism of resolution, we cannot distinguish humor from nonsense. The punch line of a joke is seemingly incongruous with the preceding part, but the resolution, usually based on some type of linguistic ambiguity, makes the incongruity seem appropriate. Freud proposed that processes similar to incongruity and resolution appear in a certain developmental sequence. Following an early stage during which pure incongruity or nonsense is enjoyed, the child gradually comes to prefer resolvable or meaningful incongruity. Studies have shown this to be true. Research using incongruity-removed and resolution-removed versions of jokes has shown that third, fifth, and seventh graders find the original jokes funnier than the resolution-removed versions and the resolution-removed forms funnier than the incongruity-removed forms. First graders showed no difference between the original and resolution-removed versions but found both funnier than the incongruity-removed forms. These and other experiments strongly suggest that the transition from appreciation of nonsensical incongruity to preference for resolvable incongruity occurs between the ages of 6 and 8 years. This raises the possibility that the transition may be related to the onset of concrete operational thought. (KM)
Publication Type: N/A
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: N/A
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: McGill Univ., Montreal (Quebec). Dept. of Psychology.