Play and Exploration in Children and Animals

By Thomas G. Power | Go to book overview

10
Conclusions

The first purpose of this book was to provide a state-of-the-art review of the research on play in children and other animals. So what is the state of the art? Let us return to the unanswered questions raised in chapter 1 to see if we are any closer to some answers.


IS PLAY A DISTINCT MOTIVATIONAL/BEHAVIORAL CATEGORY?

Throughout the book, numerous attempts were made to differentiate between play and other forms of behavior. In an attempt to differentiate play, exploration, and tool use in chapter 3, it was necessary to propose a category halfway between "pure" exploration and play that corresponded to mastery behavior: functional exploration/practice play. In chapters 4 and 5, considerable evidence was found for the distinction between play- and serious fighting in young animals and children (e.g., developmental course, signals, contexts, intensity, duration, tactics, targets, consequences), but research suggested that play-fighting often becomes rougher with age and presumably more difficult to distinguish from serious fighting. The distinction between locomotor play and serious flight seems less problematic, but differentiating between play and other affiliative interactions was difficult in social object play, especially for infants and toddlers (see chap. 8). The same difficulty arose in chapter 9, when considering play between parents and infants.

Another question is whether the diverse forms of play considered here (i.e., solitary object play, play-fighting, locomotor play, and the various forms of social object and social pretend play) are under the operation of the same or different motivational systems. That is, when play is activated, are the various play forms interchangeable, with the specific play behaviors a function of the materials or partners present? Or are each separate and

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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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