Kognitiv utveckling och låtsaslekens mysterier Cognitive development and the mysteries of pretend play
Sammanfattning: What kind of cognitive capacity must a human child develop to be able to join pretend play? This is the main question of the dissertation. To get a fair answer a great part of the background discusses what pretend play and human cognition is. Homo sapiens sapiens seems to be the only now living animal that is capable of pretense. That indicates, not only that humans have a special cognition, but also, that pretend play is a very complex activity that demands a complex cognitive capacity. To get a better understanding of what pretend play is for preschool children an experiment was carried out. Children from two to five years of age were included in the test. Two main groups, with three-year-olds and five-year-olds, were compared. The test material consisted of video clips with children acting. In some of the clips they were acting like in a real everyday situation. In other clips children were pretend playing. The video clips were designed to vary in certain ways to find out whether the test groups were affected by this in their decision making. They were supposed to tell what kind of activity they saw and if it was for real or pretense. The results suggest that children are influenced by several factors: play signals (smile, sound effect, different timing in movement), play objects (replications, strange objects, fictive objects) the number of actors (in this case one or two) and violations of everyday rules/laws. It was a clear difference between three-year-olds and five-yearolds with respect to what sense they could make of a scene and what they were influenced by. Five year old children are more capable of telling what intention an actor (playmate) has during complex pretend play even when the indicating factors are few. Three year old children cannot always understand the full intention behind a pretense scene. They depend strongly on play signals and certain objects to tell if the scene is a real or a pretend play scene. Also they do not understand what a scene is about if the actors use fictive objects. Differences between test groups are in many cases statistically significant suggesting that the cognitive capacity differs from three to five years of age. The cognition of a five year old is generally more redundant and robust in understanding pretend play.
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