Vocalizations and play: Towards a theory of a limited early cognitive capacity
Cabrera, Eulalia Juana
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Two girls were observed and videotaped to measure the frequency of vocalizations during play. The subjects were studied longitudinally, at home, from approximately 16 to 28 months of age with one structured play and one free play session taking place each month. In the free play situation the subjects played with toys which replicated everyday articles; in the structured play situation the toys used were unfamiliar, and task-oriented.;The study posited two major hypotheses. First, it was hypothesized that the subjects would vocalize less in the structured than in the free play situation because the former would be cognitively demanding and would leave the children little cognitive energy to devote to speech production, while the latter would present less of a cognitive challenge, thus leaving the children freer to vocalize. This hypothesis was confirmed for one of the two subjects.;Secondly, it was hypothesized that, because of the intense cognitive effort involved in structured play, children would vocalize less during than before or after the performance of the toys' solutions. This hypothesis was confirmed for both subjects.;Additional research questions concerned: (a) the relative incidence of Private vs. Social speech in the two play conditions, (b) the effect of the play condition on the occurrence of symbolic vs. non-symbolic play, and (c) as a supplementary area of investigation, the developmental growth of play and speech.;With respect to the above areas the study found that both subjects responded instrumentally to the structured play situation, adapting their speech use (more Social than Private), and their play behaviors (more non-symbolic or task-oriented than symbolic play) to the demands imposed by this situation. In free play the subjects exhibited a wider variety of play behaviors. The subjects' individual play styles were found to influence the use of speech in free play. The development of play and speech functions were found to be within established norms for the subjects' age range.