PLAY BEHAVIOR AND OPTIMAL-LEVEL THEORY: AN EXPLORATORY STUDY (HOME, PRESCHOOLERS)

PATRICIA A MAJOR, Fordham University

Abstract

This study examined the relationship between the form and frequency of children's play and selected home and school factors. The spontaneous play of 40 preschool children was observed over 10 school days and coded into social and cognitive play categories. The frequency of particular forms of play--solitary, social, functional, constructive, and pretense--and the overall frequency of play behavior were determined for each child. The home and school factors were chosen based on Berlyne's optimal-level theory and could be considered evidence of arousal or stress for the child. The home factors were related to the stimulation potential in the home environment as measured by the Caldwell and Bradley HOME Inventory, a 55-item questionnaire completed by the child's teacher during a home visit. The school factors were indications of arousal as evidenced by teacher-rated behaviors related to aggression, anxiety, and inattention, as measured by three subscales of the Burks' Behavior Rating Scale.^ The study was exploratory in nature. Based on Berlyne's theory of ludic behavior, it was predicted that factors related to high arousal would negatively affect play behavior. Five specific hypotheses were tested using multiple regression analyses. The results provided partial support for the relationship between home environment and play behavior. Both frequency of social play and overall frequency of play behavior were related to home environment scores. With the exception of the aggression scores, which were positively related to social play and negatively related to solitary play, the behavior scores did not contribute to any variance in the play scores. None of the cognitive categories of play were related to either the home or school factors.^ The purpose of the study was to explore the relationship between children's play and particular aspects of their experience. The findings indicated that some of the variance in a child's play behavior, specifically the amount of social play and the overall frequency of play behavior, was related to the measured stimulation potential of the home environment. The complexity of the central constructs of the study was discussed, as well as possible directions for future research. ^

Subject Area

Educational psychology

Recommended Citation

MAJOR, PATRICIA A, "PLAY BEHAVIOR AND OPTIMAL-LEVEL THEORY: AN EXPLORATORY STUDY (HOME, PRESCHOOLERS)" (1986). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8624492.
http://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI8624492

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