What makes babies laugh? Global research project aims to find out
Published Tuesday, February 5, 2013 10:35AM EST
A research team out of the U.K. is turning its attention to what’s become a hugely popular theme of viral online videos – babies’ laughter.
Developmental psychologist Dr. Caspar Addyman has launched a global study that looks into the science behind a baby’s contagious laughter.
Working out of the Birkbeck Babylab in London, Addyman says infants’ laughter signals that they are learning about the world around them.
“(Laughter) is just one step away from what they already understand,” Addyman told CTV’s Canada AM on Tuesday.
“If it’s completely unusual to them, they’d be very confused. If it’s something which they start to have some idea about, but they’re a little bit surprised, then they’re going to laugh.”
The Baby Laughter Project asks parents of children under two-and-a-half years of age what their babies find funny – including people, sounds and games.
“A very little baby doesn’t know much about the world, so he isn’t going to find as many things to understand. So very little babies laugh mainly at tickling and blowing raspberries,” Addyman said. “As they get older, they understand more and we’ll keep track of what they laugh at.”
He said that typically, what makes both babies and humans giggle is other people -- making laughter a social experience.
“I think that’s the best thing I’ve found so far. Laughing is about bonding and connecting with other people.”
While some have suggested that discovering the root of babies’ cries could be more useful to parents, Addyman says laughter is an important part of the baby-parent bonding process.
“I’m hoping that if we can tell (parents) how to make their baby laugh, that’s one good way to stop the baby crying,” he said.
“It draws parents’ attention to the fact that their babies are learning about the world and their laughter, getting the joke, understand something new about the world, it’s sort of a wonderful eureka moment for the baby.”