Play and Development

Robert M. Fagen

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

Play and Development


This chapter offers biological hypotheses about proximate causation of variation in human play. Topics include the developmental role of social contingency play in middle infancy; ecological life-history analysis of play across the lifespan; rhythm-based learning; developmental rates as biological dependent variables; play in late childhood (the “bubblegum years”); and active, embodied, playful engagement with rhythms of space and time. Rhythm-based learning is primary, indeed definitive, in human nature. This novel view of human nature and human cognition has its genesis in novel insights that emerge from the study of communicative musicality and from research on children’s geographies. Rhythmically-based playful interactions in space and time develop meanings, relationships, embodied minds, and intersubjectivities. Self-referential play emerges simply and inevitably from spatiotemporal play in development but further serves to transcend the bounds and veils of space-time, as William Blake long ago recognized.

Keywords: biological dependent variables; bubblegum years; children’s geographies; communicative musicality; developmental rates; embodied mind; intersubjectivity; life-history; musicality; rhythm; rhythm-based learning; self-reference; social contingency play; str

Article.  13707 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Developmental Psychology

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