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Babies' Sense of Humor Comes from Parents

laughing babyChildren may inherit some traits that add up to a sense of humor, but recent research shows they learn what's funny by watching their parents. We already knew they looked to parents for cues about what they should be afraid of. A new experiment by Gina Mireault of Johnson State College and John Sparrow at the University of New Hampshire shows they also learn what they should laugh at. 
In the latest study, babies watched their parent react naturally to two ordinary events, looking at a picture book and being shown a small red foam ball.

The events were then changed so that they became absurd: The open picture book was bounced on the researcher’s head while she said, “Zoop, Zoop” and the foam ball was placed on the researcher’s nose while she poked it and said, “Beep, Beep”Parents were instructed to either stare at the researcher with an expressionless face or to point and laugh at her.

The study found that, although 6-month-old babies stared longer at the absurd events, showing that these were unfamiliar to them, their reactions to the events did not depend on their parents’ reactions.

However, babies watched their parents closely when they laughed. The combination of paying close attention to absurd events and to others laughing at those events might explain how babies develop the sophisticated sense of humour they possess at 12 months, the researchers said.

So keep up the absurdity, because there's nothing more delightful than a laughing baby! Link -via the Presurfer

(Image credit: Flickr user bikesandwich)

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