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Pretend Play in Childhood: An Integrative Review

Greta G. Fein
Child Development
Vol. 52, No. 4 (Dec., 1981), pp. 1095-1118
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Society for Research in Child Development
DOI: 10.2307/1129497
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1129497
Page Count: 24
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Pretend Play in Childhood: An Integrative Review
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Abstract

Pretend play is a pervasive behavior that has attracted considerable attention over the past decade. In the article, the research is reviewed in the context of the diverse theoretical orientations that have stimulated these efforts. The most productive theoretical positions tend to deal with selected aspects of the behavior (e. g., solitary or social pretense, developmental change, individual differences, environmental factors) rather than its entirety. Recent contributions have offered a refined account of developmental changes in pretense and an examination of the behavioral processes involved. Studies of individual differences suggest that pretense may reflect a stable personality trait, although evidence concerning antecedent factors is inconclusive. Training studies have demonstrated procedures for increasing spontaneous pretense, and some of these suggest a relation between enhanced play and improved performance on measures of social and cognitive functioning. Other procedures have been used to demonstrate a relation between pretense and creativity. Although outcome studies have become increasingly sophisticated, they pose numerous interpretive problems. Areas in need of further inquiry are discussed with respect to issues that require theoretical or empirical clarification.

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