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Play Fighting - 1st Edition - ISBN: 9780120494507, 9781483261119

Play Fighting

1st Edition

Author: Owen Aldis
eBook ISBN: 9781483261119
Imprint: Academic Press
Published Date: 1st January 1975
Page Count: 338
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Play Fighting considers the possible benefits of play for humans and animals. This book is divided into two main topics—animal play and human play. In these topics, this text specifically discusses the definition, evolution, and function of play; criteria of chasing and play fighting; function of laughter in human play; and spurious correlation between exploratory and playful species. The surplus energy and catharsis theories of play; vestibular stimulation acting as a reinforcer; function of mother-infant play; and properties of play-fear and serious-fear stimuli are also elaborated. This compilation likewise covers the puzzling blind spots of child psychology; play and child rearing; and play fear of “monsters”. This publication is a good source for students and individuals interested in the survival value of play for animals and healthy development of children.

Table of Contents


Figure and Quotation Credits

Part I Animal Play

1 Introduction

Hors d'Oeuvres: The Benefits of Play

The Definition, Evolution, and Function of Play

Methods of Observation

First Things First: The Need for Elementary Observation and Description

2 Chasing

Serious Flight


The Description of Chasing Play

Causal Factors in Chasing Games

Solitary Play Flight in Infants

3 Mouthing

The Inhibition of Biting

Mouthing as a Reinforcement

Being Mouthed as a Reinforcement

4 Wrestling



Play Wrestling

Species Differences in Wrestling

5 Predatory Specializations



Forms of Seizing Prey

A Comparison of Play of Dogs and Cats

6 Rotation, Sliding, and Vestibular Reinforcement

Vestibular Reinforcement during Active Responding: "Rotational Acrobatics"

7 Solitary Object Play, Exploration and Manipulation

Object Play Distinguished from Serious Exploration and Manipulation

Solitary Object Play

Serious Exploration and Manipulation

The Spurious Correlation between Exploratory and Playful Species

Exploration of Novel Stimuli by the Young

Learning in Object Play and Serious Exploration Compared

Combinations of Exploration, Manipulation, and Object Play

8 Playful Competition for Objects

"Pretending" that an Object Has Reinforcement Value

Tug-of-War Play

Competition for Space: "King of the Castle"

High-Order Play Attack

9 Play Signals

The Function of Laughter in Human Play

Play Vocalizations

The Open-Mouthed Play Face

Tail Signals

Ritualized Body Movements

Circumstances that Lead to Play Signaling

10 Play Groups and Sex Differences in Play

Play Groups in Primates

Sex Differences


11 Adult Play

Mother-Infant Play

Play between Adults

Courtship Play

Social Bonds

Arousal Function in Pack-Hunting Carnivores

12 Motivation

Play in Relation to the Primary Drives

Slight Degrees of Fear and Novelty

Play Drives

13 Definition and Evolution

Types of Definition

Defining Criteria of Chasing and Play Fighting

"Pretending" in Animal Play

Key Stimuli and Motivation

Behaviors that Should Not Be Classified as Play

Jumps, Turns, Running without Chasing, and Vestibular Play

The Preconditions for the Evolution of Play

The Evolution of Play and Gerotony

Species Comparisons of Play

Summary: "Natural Divisions" in the Continuum

Anthropomorphic Definitions of Animal Play

The Frequency of Play in Different Species

14 Immature Sexual Behavior

Misleading Similarities between Early Sexual Behavior and Play

Clear-Cut Differences between Immature Sexual Behavior and Play

15 Function

Species with Little or No Play Compared with Playful Species

Training for Predatory Specializations

Training for Locomotion

Training for Strength; Physiological Development

Nonpredatory Aggression

Possible Experiments and Observations

Learning about the Environment

The Learning of Social Skills

The Establishment of Rank-Order Relationships

Social Bonds

Surplus Energy and Catharsis Theories of Play

Hedonistic and Arousal Theories of Play

An Evaluation of Alternative Theories of Play

Part II Human Play

16 Wrestling for Superior Position

Forms of Play Wrestling; Wrestling for Superior Position

Throwing to the Ground

Wrestling on the Ground

Modified and Inhibited Responses in Play Wrestling

Role Reversal

17 Fragmentary Wrestling, Hitting, and Kicking

Fragmentary Wrestling while Standing

Leg Play


Variety in Play Wrestling

Frequency of Fragmentary Wrestling and Wrestling for Superior Position among Boys

Play Wrestling in Girls



18 Swimming Pool Play



19 Chasing

Brief Chases

Chasing Combined with Other Forms of Play


Complex Tag and Organized Games

Chasing Combined with Hiding

20 Vestibular Reinforcement

Vestibular Stimulation Acting as a Reinforcer



Amusement Park Rides

Spinning Platters and Rolling Barrels

Swinging and Throwing Children into the Air


21 Mother-Infant Play

The Function of Mother-Infant Play

Play Techniques

General Instructions on Play

Experimental Studies

22 Play Fear Reinforcement

Properties of Play-Fear and Serious-Fear Stimuli


Wading in the Surf

Play Fear of "Monsters"

23 Human and Animal Play Compared




Wrestling and Other Forms of Play Fighting

Predatory Specializations

Play in the Water

Vestibular Play

Object Play, Exploration, and Manipulation

Playful Competition for Objects

Mother-Infant Play

Play between Adults

The Definition of Human Play

The Function of Human Play

24 Play and Child Rearing

Physical Fitness

Play Fighting and Serious Aggression

Courage and Fear


25 First Things First: Elementary

Description and Classification

The Puzzling Blind Spots of Child Psychology

The Strengths and Weaknesses of American Psychology and European Ethology

Research Strategies Appropriate to Elementary and Advanced Science

Ethological Methods


Subject Index


No. of pages:
© Academic Press 1975
1st January 1975
Academic Press
eBook ISBN:

About the Author

Owen Aldis

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