6-1 | What Do We Know about Pretend Play and Narrative Development?

Article

What Do We Know about Pretend Play and Narrative Development?
A Response to Lillard, Lerner, Hopkins, Dore, Smith, and Palmquist on “The Impact of Pretend Play on Children’s Development: A Review of the Evidence”

Ageliki Nicolopoulou and Hande Ilgaz

Abstract:

An article by Angeline S. Lillard and others in the January 2013 issue of Psychological Bulletin comprehensively reviewed and criticized the existing body of research on pretend play and children’s development. Nicolopoulou and Ilgaz respond specifically to the article’s critical review of research on play and narrative development, focusing especially on its assessment of research—mostly conducted during the 1970s and 1980s—on play-based narrative interventions. The authors consider that assessment overly negative and dismissive. On the contrary, they find this research strong and valuable, offering some solid evidence of beneficial effects of pretend play for narrative development. They argue that the account of this research by Lillard and her colleagues was incomplete and misleading; that their treatment of relevant studies failed to situate them in the context of a developing research program; and that a number of their criticisms were misplaced, overstated, conceptually problematic, or all of the above. They conclude that this research—while not without flaws, gaps, limitations, unanswered questions, and room for improvement—offers more useful resources and guidance for future research than Lillard and her colleagues acknowledged. Key words: narrative skills; pretend play and child development; research assessments