"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, PhD, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, 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
"Although there have been previous books on play in nonhuman primates, this is the first one devoted to play in the great apes and humans. In chapters by leading researchers, different types of play are covered both in apes and in humans from a variety of cultures. The relationship between physical or behavioral play and 'mental' play--involving fantasy, imagination, pretense, and symbols--is systematically addressed as well. It is this latter form of play that has been considered strictly limited to humans, and the fascinating examples in apes discussed here are, for me, a highlight of this stimulating volume. This book would be a fine text or supplement to courses in evolutionary, developmental, and comparative psychology; ethology; and animal behavior, as well as courses on play."--Gordon M. Burghardt, PhD, Departments of Psychology and Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Tennessee, Knoxville; author of The Genesis of Animal Play
What is the role of play in child development? What is the relation between an organism's biology and the environment in which it develops? And how can studies of nonhuman primates, especially great apes - whose play patterns are in many ways similar to ours - help us understand the development and evolution of play in human children? 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. Innovative and thought-provoking, the book is filled with compelling findings from a range of human and animal settings. 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 rough-and-tumble play, object play, and pretend or fantasy play in humans and great apes. Explored are the ways in which specific play behaviors generate skills and knowledge that are needed for successful functioning throughout life, as well as what they reveal about evolutionary processes.
Topics covered include: *How play fighting among both animals and humans enhances social cohesion *Sex differences in play from infancy through adolescence *Ways in which play fosters peer and parent-child relationships *How preschoolers learn to use objects as tools *Why imaginative play is so much more common in human children than in apes 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, an array of black-and-white photographs and other illustrations enliven this authoritative work. Comprehensive and up to date, this tightly edited volume belongs on the desks of researchers and students in developmental psychology, comparative psychology, animal behavior, and evolutionary psychology, and will also be of interest to anthropologists. It is a richly informative text for advanced undergraduate- and graduate-level courses.
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