The Relationship Between Play and Divergent Thinking

Evidence of positive associations between divergent thinking and pretend play are prevalent in the literature (e.g. see review by Lilliard et al. 2013)  However,it can be argued that  pretend play and divergent thinking involve the same underlying skills, thereby suggesting that the nature of the relationship may be a reciprocal rather than causal one. We set out to examine this with support from the British Psychological Society Undergraduate Research Assistantship Scheme.

In particular we wanted to investigate whether pre-schoolers would score more highly for pretend play after being asked questions aimed at promoting divergent thinking compared to convergent thinking. Fiftyseven 3-year-olds were asked carefully matched questions to promote these two types of thinking before taking part in a 5 minute assessment of pretend play. We are currently working to code children’s performance on the play task.