The structure and development of play in ferrets and dogs.
play in two
The theoretical section covers three areas. First,
existing literature on animal play was reviewed to
identify the basis for confusion in theories of animal
play. Second, a discussion of the acquisition of the
concept 'play' in humans, and its effect on our
understanding of animal play revealed the
appropriateness of the correct use of models and
analogies in the study of play. Finally, the utility of
Markov Chains, Hierarchical Cluster Analysis and the
Grammatical Model in studying play, were assessed.
In Chapter Six an investigation of "thB . nevelopment
\.1\3: "'e.~ of social play and object 'predation'~ s owed no major
ontogenetic differences. In both cases, a) there was
some evidence for age changes in the composition of
play/'predation': b) the majority of observations could
be accounted for by a group of five 'dominant' behaviour
Chapter Seven examined the function o~ 1'r~EM~p."en
Mouth Play Face (OMPF) as a. play signal. Resurts
indicated that the OMPF did not function speci~iCallY as
a play signal in young ferrets and puppies. However, the
situation was reversed for adult ferrets. There was also
evidence that the OMPF was related to arousal in a way
not exhibited by other play behaviour patterns.
Chap~i~ml~!Sht investiga~~~bf~~ential S~~~hture in
social ptay~ OBject 'predation~ an~ aggressi8~.~~esults
showed great variability in tne sequences of 'oehaviour
in all three contexts. All three behavioural contexts
showed little variability in the identity of bout
initiators and terminators. The 'grammar' constructed
failed to provide a formal description of social play,
aggression or object 'predation':'
These results suggest that many assumptions made
about the structure of play, especially with regard to
other behaviours, are invalid. The study of play should
proceed in terms of identifying the structural
configuration of sequences of social play.