The Development and Function of Locomotor Play

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

 The Development and Function of Locomotor Play

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In this chapter locomotor play is discussed. Interestingly, this form of play has received wide and deep attention from behavioral biologists (e.g., Bekoff & Byers, 1981; Fagen, 1981) and comparative psychologists (Povinelli & Cant, 1995) but very little from developmental psychologists, with the notable exception of Pellegrini and Smith (1998). For example, in the only chapter dedicated to play in a Handbook of Child Psychology, Rubin, Fein, and Vandenberg (1983) made no mention of it. This is an interesting state of affairs given our current state of knowledge regarding definitions and putative functions of play. Specifically, locomotor play has been clearly defined in terms of exaggerated and nonfunctional behaviors and behavioral sequences (Fagen, 1981). Further, functional attributes of locomotor play, both immediate and deferred, have been proffered by scholars from a variety of disciplines, including zoology (Byers, 1998; Byers & Walker, 1995; Stamps, 1995) and psychology (Pellegrini & Smith, 1998; Povinelli & Cant, 1995). From this position, it seems that many psychologists have ignored one of the most common forms of play, as well as some basic theoretical and definitional assumptions regarding the functions of play. In this chapter Pellegrini discusses the definition of locomotor play in human and nonhuman juveniles, as well as ontogenetic and sex trends. He also examines locomotor play in terms of antecedents (hormonal and socialization events) and function.

Keywords: locomotion; exercise play; rhythmic stereotypes; physical training; play deprivation.

Article.  10047 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Developmental Psychology

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