Anthony D. Pellegrini

in The Oxford Handbook of the Development of Play

Published in print December 2010 | ISBN: 9780195393002
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology


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The role of play in developmental psychology has been a controversial topic of study. For example, the noted evolutionary biologist E. O. Wilson (1975) anointed play as one of the most important topics for understanding human development. It has also been researched by some of the most notable and prescient scholars in our field (Bruner, 1972; Piaget, 1962; Suomi, 2005; Sutton-Smith, 1966; Vygotsky, 1967). By contrast, play has not been a central topic of inquiry in child development, as evidenced by the appearance of only one chapter on play (Rubin, Fein, & Vandenberg, 1983) in the six editions of the Handbook of Child Psychology, from 1946 to present. This Handbook is an attempt to re-set the balance in the study of play within developmental psychology by subjecting it to an interdisciplinary onslaught by scholars from anthropology, history, education, psychology, and evolutionary biology. To this end, the Handbook is organized into separate sections addressing definition and theory, methodology, specific dimensions of play (locomotor, object, social and nonsocial, and pretend), and educational implications.

Keywords: Definitions; theories; methods; dimensions of play; education and play

Article.  2487 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Developmental Psychology ; Cognitive Psychology

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