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Two-Year-Olds Distinguish Pretending and Joking

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)916-928
Number of pages13
JournalChild Development
DateAccepted/In press - 28 Jul 2015
DatePublished (current) - 18 May 2016


While children understand intentions to joke and pretend by 2 or 3 years, it is unclear whether they distinguish these intentional acts. Using a normativity paradigm, we found (N=72) 2-year-olds protest against jokes more than pretending, suggesting, for the first time, they distinguish these acts. Furthermore, toddlers protested more generally after pretend than literal or joke contexts, but only if intentional cues were used. Additionally, children objected more to joking than pretending after pretend and literal contexts, but not after joke contexts. Thus toddlers distinguish the intentional nature of pretending and joking. Furthermore, a pretend intentional context establishes specific rules to be followed, while a joke intentional context allows an open space to perform various types of acts.

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