The development of representation: A study of pretend play and language
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This study investigated the relationship between the pretend play and language longitudinally in 9 participants aged 14-17 months at the onset of the testing. Measures of language (the MacArthur Language Inventory) and pretend play (based on McCune, 1995) were collected during play sessions. Play sessions were scheduled until participants began using word combinations proficiently, on average about six months after their initial play sessions. Results indicate that early syntactic development as manifest in the ability to create meaningful word combinations emerged concurrently with a transition to higher levels of pretend play. These findings are taken to indicate that an underlying representation ability emerges in the second year which sets the framework for pretend play and syntax to develop. Results also indicate that as participants became more proficient at word combinations, they began spending less time overall pretend playing during sessions. When resources or cognitive effort is utilized to further develop syntax, a decline in cognitive attention available to focus on pretend play becomes apparent.