- Oxford Library of Psychology
- The Oxford Handbook of the Development of Play
- Oxford Library of Psychology
- About the Editor
- Defining and Recognizing Play
- Cultural Variations in Beliefs about Play, Parent–Child Play, and Children’s Play: Meaning for Childhood Development
- Theories of Play
- Comparing and Extending Piaget’s and Vygotsky’s Understandings of Play: Symbolic Play as Individual, Sociocultural, and Educational Interpretation
- Gene × Environment Interactions and Social Play: Contributions from Rhesus Macaques
- Playing at Every Age: Modalities and Potential Functions in Non-Human Primates
- Play and Development
- The History of Children’s Play in the United States
- The Antipathies of Play
- The Cultural Ecology of Play: Methodological Considerations for Studying Play in Its Everyday Contexts
- Observational Methods in Studying Play
- Object Play and Tool Use: Developmental and Evolutionary Perspectives
- The Development and Function of Locomotor Play
- Not Just “Playing Alone”: Exploring Multiple Forms of Nonsocial Play in Childhood
- Internalizing and Externalizing Disorders during Childhood: Implications for Social Play
- Gender and Temperament in Young Children’s Social Interactions
- Social Play of Children with Adults and Peers
- Rough-and-Tumble Play: Training and Using the Social Brain
- Children’s Games and Playground Activities in School and Their Role in Development
- Mother–Child Fantasy Play
- Origins and Consequences of Social Pretend Play
- The Development of Pretend Play in Autism
- Technology and Play
- Playing Around in School: Implications for Learning and Educational Policy
Abstract and Keywords
In this chapter I discuss the use of observational methods in the study of play, both in humans and non-human species. In the first part, I give a short history of observational methods, and then consider issues around types of observational methods, such as participant and non-participant observation, and (briefly) alternatives to observation (for human children: indirect methods based on verbal report, such as interviews and questionnaires). Intersecting with the use of observational measures is the context of observation, and in particular whether behavior is heavily constrained within the setting, and whether the environment can be considered ‘natural.’ The ‘discovery’ of rough-and-tumble play in human children provides an interesting case study of the importance of observational methods. In the second part, I consider some theoretical presuppositions regarding observational work, moving into the main technical issues: category schemes, recording techniques, measures, sampling, analysing, and reliability and validity; with some examples from studies of play.
Peter K. Smith, Department of Psychology, Goldsmiths University of London.
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