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Child Dev. 1986 Apr;57(2):461-73.

Humor and competence in school-aged children.


Multiple aspects of humor were evaluated in children between the ages of 10 and 14 and related to several areas of competence manifested at school. Humor measures assessed appreciation (including mirth, subjective ratings, and response sets), comprehension, and production, while competence measures included teacher ratings of classroom behavior, peer reputation, and achievement. Humor was related to competence in several ways consistent with previous theory and research: (1) through the manifestation of intellectual ability both in humor behaviors and in competent functioning; (2) through the role of mastery motivation enhancing both types of functioning; and (3) through peer relations, resulting from the effects of humor on peer acceptance or the effects of peer relations on humor behaviors. Ideas for further research relating humor to social competence, social cognition, and mastery motivation are discussed.

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