Play and Exploration in Children and Animals

By Thomas G. Power | Go to book overview

III
Social Object, Social Pretend, and Parent-Child Play

Although the vast majority of social play interactions in nonhuman animals take the forms of play-fighting and locomotor play, in his natural history Fagen ( 1981) identifies several less common types. In rodents and ungulates these include playful mounting and "riding," playful "crawling on," and playful nosing and sniffing. Some canids and primates have been observed to engage in social play with objects. Their actions include playful struggles over objects and the ensuing chases (canids and primates -- Aldis, 1975; Pedersen et al., 1990; Starin, 1990; van Lawick-Goodall, 1968), object tug-of-war (group-hunting canids -- Aldis, 1975; Biben, 1982a, 1983; Fox, 1969; Pedersen et al., 1990); and playfully waving or shaking objects at another (primates -- Starin, 1990; van Lawick-Goodall, 1968).

Although human children engage in play-fighting, play-chasing, and some of the rarer forms of social play seen in other animals (with the exception of mounting and sniffing), much of children's social play is devoted to activities that, at least on the surface, share few commonalities with the behavior of other species. The sociodramatic play and rule-governed games of early and middle childhood reflect children's developing cognitive and communicative abilities, and as such appear uniquely human. Moreover, although parent-offspring play is observed in many species (see introduction to chap. 9), the forms observed in humans differ considerably from those observed in other animals. These differences also appear to be due to the cognitive and communicative competence of human parents as play partners. Therefore, the next two chapters focus primarily on the play of humans, although occasional references to other animals are made when appropriate.

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Play and Exploration in Children and Animals
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface xi
  • Acknowledgments xii
  • 1 - Introduction 1
  • I - Solitary Object Exploration and Play 15
  • 3 Solitary Object Exploration and Play in Children 55
  • II - Physical Activity Play 109
  • 4 - Play-Fighting in Animals 111
  • 5 - Play-Fighting in Children 163
  • 6 - Locomotor Play in Animals 191
  • 7 - Locomotor Play in Children 203
  • III - Social Object, Social Pretend, and Parent-Child Play 213
  • 8 - Social Object and Sociodramatic Play in Children 215
  • 9 - Parent-Child Play 295
  • 10 - Conclusions 389
  • References 397
  • Author Index 475
  • Subject Index 495
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