Generating and Understanding Jokes by Five- And Nine-Year-Olds as an Expression of Theory of Mind
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The main aim of the presented research is to describe children's ability to generate and understand humorous stories and pictures drawn by their peers and older or younger children. From the perspective of research on children's theories of mind, we assume that in middle childhood we will observe a transition from the basic, copy theory of mind to the interpretative one (Carpendale & Chandler, 1996). The authoresses examined 60 five- and nine-year-old children in two phases. During the first phase, the children were asked to draw a funny picture and then justify what made it funny and they had also to present the funny story. Two months later, the children were presented with some pictures chosen after the first phase as the most typical one. They had to justify why these pictures are funny. The obtained results indicate that there is a relation between the age of the subjects and the kind of interpretations of funny pictures which are consistent with the author's intentions. Significantly more nine-year-olds than five-year-olds accurately understood the author's intentions when interpreting his picture. The presented data indicate that changes in the theory of mind take place also in middle childhood and lead to a complex, interpretative theory of mind which can be discovered when researching children's understanding of jokes.
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