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Lillard, A. et al. (2013) The impact of pretend play on children's development: A review of the evidence (Journal Article)

Abstract:

Pretend play has been claimed to be crucial to children's healthy development. Here we examine evidence for this position versus 2 alternatives: Pretend play is 1 of many routes to positive developments (equifinality), and pretend play is an epiphenomenon of other factors that drive development. Evidence from several domains is considered. For language, narrative, and emotion regulation, the research conducted to date is consistent with all 3 positions but insufficient to draw conclusions. For executive function and social skills, existing research leans against the crucial causal position but is insufficient to differentiate the other 2. For reasoning, equifinality is definitely supported, ruling out a crucially causal position but still leaving open the possibility that pretend play is epiphenomenal. For problem solving, there is no compelling evidence that pretend play helps or is even a correlate. For creativity, intelligence, conservation, and theory of mind, inconsistent correlational results from sound studies and nonreplication with masked experimenters are problematic for a causal position, and some good studies favor an epiphenomenon position in which child, adult, and environment characteristics that go along with play are the true causal agents. We end by considering epiphenomenalism more deeply and discussing implications for preschool settings and further research in this domain. Our take-away message is that existing evidence does not support strong causal claims about the unique importance of pretend play for development and that much more and better research is essential for clarifying its possible role. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2013 APA, all rights reserved). (journal abstract)

Date:
January 2013
Publisher or Journal:
Volume:
139
Page/s:
1-34
Synonyms:
  • Affective behaviour
  • Creativity
  • Developmental outcomes
  • Language
  • Pretend play
  • Pro-social behaviour
  • Problem-solving
  • Self-regulation
  • Social cognition
  • Social-emotional
  • Executive function
Relevant age group/s:
Research discipline:

Walker, C. et al. (2013) Pretense and possibility—A theoretical proposal about the effects of pretend play on development: Comment on Lillard et al. (2013). (Journal Article)

Abstract:

The review by Lillard et al. (2013) highlighted the need for additional research to better clarify the nature of the relationship between pretend play and development. However, the authors did not provide a proposal for how to structure the direction of this future work. Here, we provide a possible framework for generating additional research. This theoretical proposal is based on recent computational approaches to cognition, in which counterfactual reasoning plays a central role in causal learning. We propose that pretend play initially emerges as a product of the cognitive mechanisms underlying human learning and then feeds back to become critical for enhancing the optimal functioning of these same processes. More specifically, we argue that pretending is in fact 1 of several forms of counterfactual reasoning, which is essential to causal cognition—and that the act of engaging in pretend scenarios may provide early opportunities to practice the skills that were initially responsible for its appearance. Here, we provide a brief overview of this theoretical framework, consider how these ideas may be integrated with the previous work covered in Lillard et al.'s (2013) review, and suggest some empirically testable questions to direct future directions.

Date:
January 2013
Publisher or Journal:
Volume:
139
Page/s:
40-44
Synonyms:
  • Developmental outcomes
  • Learning
  • Literature review
  • Pretend play
  • Problem-solving
Relevant age group/s:
Research discipline:

Walker, C. et al. (2013) Pretense and possibility—A theoretical proposal about the effects of pretend play on development: Comment on Lillard et al. (2013) (Journal Article)

Abstract:

The review by Lillard et al. (2013) highlighted the need for additional research to better clarify the nature of the relationship between pretend play and development. However, the authors did not provide a proposal for how to structure the direction of this future work. Here, we provide a possible framework for generating additional research. This theoretical proposal is based on recent computational approaches to cognition, in which counterfactual reasoning plays a central role in causal learning. We propose that pretend play initially emerges as a product of the cognitive mechanisms underlying human learning and then feeds back to become critical for enhancing the optimal functioning of these same processes. More specifically, we argue that pretending is in fact 1 of several forms of counterfactual reasoning, which is essential to causal cognition—and that the act of engaging in pretend scenarios may provide early opportunities to practice the skills that were initially responsible for its appearance. Here, we provide a brief overview of this theoretical framework, consider how these ideas may be integrated with the previous work covered in Lillard et al.'s (2013) review, and suggest some empirically testable questions to direct future directions.

Date:
January 2013
Publisher or Journal:
Volume:
139
Page/s:
40-44
Synonyms:
  • Developmental outcomes
  • Learning
  • Pretend play
  • Problem-solving
Relevant age group/s:
Research discipline:

Weisberg, D. et al. (2013) Embracing complexity: Rethinking the relation between play and learning: Comment on Lillard et al. (2013) (Journal Article)

Abstract:

Lillard et al. (2013) concluded that pretend play is not causally related to child outcomes and charged that the field is subject to a play ethos, whereby research is tainted by a bias to find positive effects of play on child development. In this commentary, we embrace their call for a more solidly scientific approach to questions in this important area of study while offering 2 critiques of their analysis. First, we urge researchers to take a more holistic approach to the body of evidence on play and learning, rather than relying on piecemeal criticisms of individual studies, since positive effects of play on learning emerge despite the use of a variety of methods, contents, and experimental conditions. Second, we consider how best to study this topic in the future and propose moving away from traditional empirical approaches to more complicated statistical models and methods that will allow us to embrace the full variety and complexity of playful learning. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)

Date:
January 2013
Publisher or Journal:
Volume:
139
Page/s:
35-39
Synonyms:
  • Developmental outcomes
  • Learning
  • Playful learning
  • Pretend play
Relevant age group/s:
Research discipline: