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The Nature of Play
Great Apes and Humans



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ISBN 9781593851170
Published January 5, 2005 by Guilford Press
308 Pages

 
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Book Description

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.

Table of Contents

I. Background and Theory
1. Play in Great Apes and Humans, Anthony D. Pellegrini and Peter K. Smith
2. The Role of Play in the Evolution of Great Apes and Humans, Patrick Bateson
II. Social Play
3. Social Play in the Great Apes, Kerrie P. Lewis
4. Rough-and-Tumble Play in Humans, Douglas P. Fry
III. Object Play
5. Object Play in Great Apes: Studies in Nature and Captivity, Jacklyn K. Ramsey
and William C. McGrew
6. Boys' and Girls' Uses of Objects for Exploration, Play, and Tools in Early Childhood,
Anthony D. Pellegrini and Kathy Gustafson
IV. Fantasy
7. Fantasy Play in Apes, Juan-Carlos Gómez and Beatriz Martín-Andrade
8. Social and Pretend Play in Children, Peter K. Smith
V. Hunter-Gatherers and Pastoral Peoples
9. Play in Hunter-Gatherer Society, Yumi Gosso, Emma Otta, Maria de Lima Salum e Morais,
Fernando José Leite Ribeiro, and Vera Silvia Raad Bussab
10. Farming, Foraging, and Children's Play in the Okavango Delta, Botswana, John Bock
VI. Conclusion
11. Play in Great Apes and Humans: Reflections on Continuities and Discontinuities, Peter K. Smith and Anthony D. Pellegrini

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Reviews

"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