skip to content

Click here to search our resources

PEDAL Hub: Resource Library

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:

Nicolopoulou, A. et al. (2013) What Do We Know about Pretend Play and Narrative Development? A Response to Lillard, Lerner, Hopkins, Dore, Smith, and Palmquist on" The Impact of Pretend Play on Children's Development: A Review of the Evidence". (Journal Article)

Abstract:

An article by Angeline S. Lillard and others in the January 2013 issue of Psychologi- cal Bulletin comprehensively reviewed and criticized the existing body of research on pretend play and children’s development. Nicolopoulou and Ilgaz respond specifically to the article’s critical review of research on play and narrative devel- opment, focusing especially on its assessment of research—mostly conducted during the 1970s and 1980s—on play-based narrative interventions. The authors consider that assessment overly negative and dismissive. On the contrary, they find this research strong and valuable, offering some solid evidence of beneficial effects of pretend play for narrative development. They argue that the account of this research by Lillard and her colleagues was incomplete and misleading; that their treatment of relevant studies failed to situate them in the context of a devel- oping research program; and that a number of their criticisms were misplaced, overstated, conceptually problematic, or all of the above. They conclude that this research—while not without flaws, gaps, limitations, unanswered questions, and room for improvement—offers more useful resources and guidance for future research than Lillard and her colleagues acknowledged. Key words: narrative skills; pretend play and child development; research assessments.

Date:
January 2013
Publisher or Journal:
Volume:
6
Page/s:
55–81
Synonyms:
  • Developmental outcomes
  • Language
  • Learning
  • Peers play
  • Pretend play
  • Teacher/caregiver play
Relevant age group/s:
Research discipline: