Play and the Development of Social Engagement: A Comparative Perspective

Play has long been considered as either insignificant or irrelevant to normal behaviour development, or as important in the onset of normal behaviour development. Two fundamental factors that have caused this confusion about play are discussed in this chapter: the tendency for play to be defined as without immediate purpose, and the tendency of utilitarian and cognitive perspectives to focus on skills development. The model used in this chapter suggests that social play experience allows for modifying the stress-response system and emotional control generally. During play, juveniles realize the emotive value of certain events and that social interactions may involve pain and uncertainty. Animals with play experience have better control of how they react to a particular situation and are better able to give more subtle and graded responses to new social contexts. © 2006 by Peter J. Marshall & Nathan A. Fox. All rights reserved.

Play has long been considered as either insignificant or irrelevant to normal behaviour development, or as important in the onset of normal behaviour development. Two fundamental factors that have caused this confusion about play are discussed in this chapter: the tendency for play to be defined as without immediate purpose, and the tendency of utilitarian and cognitive perspectives to focus on skills development. The model used in this chapter suggests that social play experience allows for modifying the stress-response system and emotional control generally. During play, juveniles realize the emotive value of certain events and that social interactions may involve pain and uncertainty. Animals with play experience have better control of how they react to a particular situation and are better able to give more subtle and graded responses to new social contexts. © 2006 by Peter J. Marshall & Nathan A. Fox. All rights reserved.

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