Challenges in the Scientific Study of Play

Tihana Brkljačić


Play is universal in the animal and human world, but the interest
of psychologists mainly remains in the domain of child and
sports psychology, research of humour as a form of playfulness,
and examination of the effects of playing video games. The aim
of this review is to provide an insight into the science of play as
an interdisciplinary field that deals with the study of various
aspects of play, and to encourage scientists and experts to take
an interest in this field. The paper describes and compares the
definitions of play by the most important authors and offers
Croatian terminology that corresponds to the English one. "Play"
as a superordinate term is translated as "igranje", while the term
"game" which denotes a subset of structured, formal and
competitive content, including sport, translates as "igra". Several
typologies of games are presented in the paper, and a
classification is proposed with regard to the degree of presence
of each of a number of relevant play properties. Furthermore,
the importance of playing in adults, which is often marginalised,
is especially emphasised and explained. Some prominent
psychological theories of subjective well-being that include the
concept of play are described, as well as research findings that
show the relationship between playfulness and various positive
outcomes. At the end of the paper, the author offers some
practical advice and recommendations for future research.


play; subjective well-being; flow; broaden and build; VIA model of character strengths

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