Pretend play as a life-span activity

Topoi 24 (2):137-147 (2005)
Abstract
Arguing against the dominant developmental theories (e.g., Piaget, 1945; Vygotsky, 1978) stating that pretend play is limited to early childhood, we illustrate that pretend play is an adaptive human activity of adulthood as well as childhood. We advance this argument on three levels. First, we offer an analysis of why the discipline of developmental psychology in the Western world considered play only as an activity of childhood by neglecting to explore whether or how pretend play exists during adulthood. Second, we discuss the similarities between adult improvisational theater and children’s pretend play in illustrating our thesis that pretend continues to exist during adulthood. In this discussion, we focus on similarities in the definitions, psychological origins, social functions, and developmental consequences of pretend play and adult improvisation. Finally, we end the article with educational implications of conceptualizing pretend play as a life-span activity and offer directions for future research.
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