Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science




R. Martin


Despite popular beliefs that parents should use humour to make their infants laugh to

enhance infant mental health and social development, these associations have never been empirically investigated. An observational study was designed to investigate how humour in mother-infant play interactions might affect their attachment relationship. Results indicated that laughter-eliciting play activities were negatively related to infant emotional security and increases the probability of mothers engaging in disruptive frightening behaviours. However, when laughter eliciting behaviours were performed by mothers in a sensitive manner, they appeared to provide a protective effect in preventing playfully threatening games (i.e., “I’m going to get you”) from being interpreted as actually frightening and harmful. If parents engage in humorous activities with their infants, these results suggest that it is imperative that they do so sensitively or else it may harm the relationship.



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