Skip to main content Accessibility help

Competence and talent in verbal riddle comprehension

  • Barbara Fowles (a1) and Marcia E. Glanz (a1)

Children in grades 1–3 (ages 6–9) were asked to retell and explain a series of riddles. The scoring system was developed to differentiate levels of competence. Ability to recall riddles was not found to be predictive of ability to explain them. Three cognitive factors seemed to determine level of riddle competence. Level of competence was NOT clearly related to age. Analysis of riddles yields descriptive attributes that distinguish easy from difficult riddles. Implications concern the relationship of riddle competence to reading ability and metalinguistic facility.

Hide All
Berlyne, D. E. (1960). Conflict, arousal and curiosity. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Bever, T. (1968). Associations to stimulus-response theories of learning. In Dixon, T. R. & Horton, D. L. (eds), Verbal behavior and general behavior theory. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall.
Biber, B. (1975). Awareness in the learning process: a comment. In Winsor, C. B. (ed.), Dimensions of language experience. New York: Agathon Press.
Brodzinsky, D. (1975). The role of conceptual tempo and stimulus characteristics in children's humour development. DevPsych II. 843–50.
Cazden, C. (1975). Play with language and metalinguistic awareness. In Winsor, C. (ed.), Dimensions of language experience. New York: Agathon Press.
Cazden, C. (1976). How knowledge about language helps the classroom teacher – or does it? Urban Review 9. 7490.
Charlesworth, W. (1969). The role of surprise in cognitive development. In Elkind, D. & Flavell, J. (eds), Studies in cognitive development. New York: O.U.P.
Downing, J. (1971). The development of linguistic concepts in children's thinking. Research in the Teaching of English 4. 519.
Gardner, H., Kircher, M., Winner, E. & Perkins, D. (1975) Children's metaphoric productions and preferences. JChLang 2. 135–41.
Ginsberg, H. & Koslowski, B. (1976). Cognitive development. In Rosensweig, M. & Porter, L. (eds), Annual review of psychology. Palo Alto: Annual Reviews.
Gleitman, L. & Rozin, P. (1973). Teaching reading by use of a syllabary. ReadResQ 8. 447–83.
Goodnow, N. (1972). Rules and repertoires, rituals and tricks of the trade: social and informational aspects of cognitive and representational development. In Farnham-Diggory, S. (ed.), Information processing in children. New York: Academic Press.
Mattingly, I. G. (1972). Reading, the linguistic process, and linguistic awareness. In Kavanagh, J. F. & Mattingly, I. G. (eds), Language by ear and by eye. Cambridge, Mass.: M.I.T.
McGhee, P. (1971 a). Development of the humor response: a review of the literature. PsychBull 76. 328–48.
McGhee, P. (1971 b). The role of operational thinking inchildren's comprehension and appreciation of humor. ChDev 42. 733–44.
McGhee, P. (1971 c). Cognitive development and children's comprehension of humor. ChDev 42. 123–38.
McGhee, P. (1972). On the cognitive origins of incongruity in humor: fantasy assimilation versus reality assimilation. In Goldstein, J. H. & McGhee, P. E. (eds), The psychology of humor: theoretical perspectives and empirical issues. New York: Academic Press.
McGhee, P. (1974). Cognitive mastery and children's humor. PsychBull 81. 721–30.
Piaget, J. (1968). Six psychological studies. New York: Vintage.
Prentice, N. M. & Fathman, R. E. (1975). Joking riddles: a developmental index of children's humor. DevPsych 10. 250–56.
Richardson, C. & Church, J. (1959). A developmental analysis of proverb interpretations. JGenPsych 94. 169–79.
Shultz, T. (1974). Development of the appreciation of riddles. ChDev 45. 100105.
Shultz, T. R. & Horibe, F. (1974). Development of the appreciation of verbal jokes. DevPsych 10. 1320.
Weir, R. (1962). Language in the crib. The Hague: Mouton.
Zigler, E., Levine, J. & Gould, L. (1967). Cognitive challenge as a factor in children's humor appreciation. JPersSocPsych 6. 332–6.
Ziv, A. (1976). Facilitating effects of humor on creativity. JEdPsych 68. 358–22.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Journal of Child Language
  • ISSN: 0305-0009
  • EISSN: 1469-7602
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-child-language
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed