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date: 15 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

How do young children represent pretend play? One possibility is that recognizing and representing pretend play depends on children's ability to infer the mental states of the person engaged in pretend play (mentalist account). The two dominant alternative possibilities are that children view as a distinctive form of non-representational behavior (behavioral account), and that children represent pretense by temporarily treating objects as though they have fictional or make-believe properties (flagging account). This chapter provides an overview of the debate between these three accounts of pretend play, but then endorses a fourth position according to which children view pretend play as a form of communication, similar in many ways to drawing.

Keywords: cognitive development, communication, concepts, mental states, pretense, representational activity, theory of mind

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