Social and object support for early symbolic play

Journal Article (Journal Article)

In this study we sought to determine the degree to which 2-to 3-year-old children use objects symbolically in the relative absence of adult symbolic actions or linguistic descriptions, and how the nature of objects influences symbolic play. Results revealed a dramatic increase in children's creative symbolic productions between 2 and 3 years of age, with the tendency to produce symbolic actions influenced to an equal degree by adult symbolic action models and verbal directions. Children of all ages were heavily influenced by the nature of the object to be used as a symbol, with the youngest children using only replica objects as symbols. In a second study, we examined children's looks to an adult as they engaged in different kinds of activities with objects. The main finding was that children looked to the adult immediately after performing a symbolic action more often than if they performed an instrumental action. We argue for the essentially social nature of symbolic play, both in terms of how children learn to use objects as symbols and in terms of the reasons they do so.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Striano, T; Tomasello, M; Rochat, P

Published Date

  • January 1, 2001

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 4 / 4

Start / End Page

  • 442 - 455

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1363-755X

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1111/1467-7687.00186

Citation Source

  • Scopus