Motivation and function of play in early childhood.
It is argued that a classification of play which can be
systematically related to motivation and function is a prerequisite
for empirical studies. 'Arousal' theories have come
closest to providing a framework for understanding motivation
and function, but the term 'arousal' itself requires careful
definition. Definitions of the terms 'play' and 'arousal' are
made after review of relevant literature in Chapters 1 and 2.
The behavioural sequences which distinguish different kinds
of play axe shown to be amenable to quantitative analysis which
confirms qualitative behavioural distinctions (Chapters 3 and 4),
and to have different functions: ludic play is innovative,
whereas exploratory play is more akin to a learning experience
Chapters 6,7 and 8 draw attention to analogies between
manipulative and symbolic play, and experimental investigations
explore the relationship between symbolic play and cognitive
abilities. No evidence is found for a unique role of symbolic
play in cognitive development.
The validity of arousal theories is specifically tested in
three studies reported in Chapter 9. Theoretical predictions
suggest that the motivational antecedents of play and day-dreaming
will be similar: the physiological correlates of play and daydreaming
are shown to be similar, and to reflect lower states
of arousal than are found during exploration and problem-solving.
Finally, a model of play is proposed which attempts to
integrate the experimental findings within the terms of motivational
systems theory. This permits a classification of play
which can be directly related to functional outcomes