The Nature of Play

The Nature of Play : Great Apes and Humans


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This uniquely integrative volume brings together leading experts in developmental psychology and animal behavior to provide a new perspective on the nature and functions of play. In an introductory chapter, distinguished ethologist Patrick Bateson describes how youthful exploration and games contribute to both individual development and group survival--not only in humans, but in other species as well. Parallel chapters then examine social play, object play, and pretend play in humans and great apes, providing a broader context for understanding why human children behave the way they do. While much of the knowledge on human play comes from industrialized Western societies, the book also features important chapters on hunter-gatherer and pastoral cultures. Throughout, a rich array of black-and-white photographs and other illustrations enliven this authoritative work.

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  • Hardback | 308 pages
  • 160 x 226 x 30mm | 557.93g
  • Guilford Publications
  • New YorkUnited States
  • English
  • New.
  • 1593851170
  • 9781593851170
  • 1,965,813

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Author Information

Anthony D. Pellegrini, PhD, is Professor of Psychological Foundations of Education in the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. His primary interest is in the development of play and dominance. He also has research interests in methodological issues in the general area of human development, with specific interest in direct observations. His research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, the Spencer Foundation, and the W. T. Grant Foundation. Dr. Pellegrini is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association and has been awarded a Fellowship from the British Psychological Society. Peter K. Smith, PhD, is Professor of Psychology and Head of the Unit for School and Family Studies at Goldsmiths College, University of London. His research interests are in social development, play, bullying in school, and evolutionary theory. Dr. Smith is coauthor of "Understanding Children's Development" and coeditor of "The Nature of School Bullying" and the "Blackwell Handbook of Childhood Social Development." He has written widely on children's play, particularly on pretend play training and rough-and-tumble play. Dr. Smith is also a Fellow of the British Psychological Society.

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Review quote

'The Nature of Play' provides a broad, interdisciplinary examination of play in primates, incorporating comparative, evolutionary, ecological, and cultural perspectives. Questions about what play is; how, when, and where animals play; how play develops; and why it has evolved are given detailed, scholarly attention by experts in the field. This book is a fascinating read, and one thing is clear - play is very serious business for players and researchers alike. This book would be an excellent text for a graduate seminar on the topic, and is also suitable for advanced undergraduates. Very thoughtful and valuable. - Marc Bekoff, University of Colorado, Boulder Written by highly respected experts, this up-to-date volume yields enlightening comparisons of the play of children and our closest animal relatives. In addition to comparing humans and great apes, the book also examines play across a wide range of human societies, distinguishing universal aspects from those that are culturally variable. This book should be required reading for students and scholars of child development, play, and the evolutionary analysis of behavior. - Thomas G. Power, PhD, Department of Human Development, Washington State University

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