Infant Play at One Year

Characteristics and Early Antecedents
  • Joan Vondra
  • Jay Belsky
Part of the Perspectives in Developmental Psychology book series (PDPS)


Play is a term we use to describe much of the activity of infants and young children. Despite the fact that children of all ages spend a large percentage of their waking time engaged in play, the term itself remains difficult to define and to operationalize formally. Particularly difficult are efforts to distinguish play from exploration. When is a child playing and when is a child exploring? Weisler and McCall (1976), like many others, have come to the conclusion that it is fruitless to advance formal definitions of terms like play and exploration because it is simply impossible to distinguish the two in the ongoing stream of the child’s behavior.


Maternal Behavior Play Behavior Free Play Pretend Play Infant Behavior 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Ainsworth, M. D. S. (1979). Attachment as related to mother-infant interaction. In J. S. Rosenblatt, R. H. Hinde, C. Beer, & M. C. Bushel (Eds.), Advances in the study of behavior, (Vol. 9 ). New York: Academic Press, 1979.Google Scholar
  2. Ainsworth, M. & Wittig, B. (1969). Attachment and exploratory behavior of one-year-olds in a strange situation. In B. M. Foss (Ed.), Determinants of infant behavior, (Vol. 4, pp. 113–136 ). London: Methuen.Google Scholar
  3. Bates, E. (1979). The emergence of symbols. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  4. Belsky, J. (1979). Mother—father—infant interaction: A naturalistic observational study. Developmental Psychology, 15, 601–607.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Belsky, J. (1980). A family analysis of parental influence on infant exploratory competence. In F. Pedersen (Ed.), The father—infant relationship: Observational studies in a family contex,t (pp. 87–110 ). New York: Praeger.Google Scholar
  6. Belsky, J. (1981). Early human experience: A family perspective. Developmental Psychology, 17, 3–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Belsky, J., & Most, R. K. (1981). From exploration to play: A cross-sectional study of infant free play behavior. Developmental Psychology, 17, 630–639.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Belsky, J., Garduque, L., & Hrncir, E. (1984). Assessing performance, competence, and executive capacity in infant play: Relations to home environment and security of attachment. Developmental Psychology, 20, 406–417.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Belsky, J., Goode, M. K., & Most, R. K. (1980). Maternal stimulation and infant exploratory competence: Cross-sectional, correlational, and experimental analyses. Child Development, 51, 1163–1178.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Belsky, J., Lerner, R., & Spanier, G. (1984). The child and the family. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.Google Scholar
  11. Belsky, J., Rovine, M., & Taylor, D. (1984). The origins of individual differences in infant-mother attachment: Maternal and infant contributions. Child Development, 55, 718–728.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Breger, L. (1974). From instinct to identity: The development of personality. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar
  13. Bruner, J. S. (1973). Organization of early skilled action. Child Development, 44, 1–11.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Clarke-Stewart, K. A. (1973). Interactions between mothers and their young children: Characteristics and consequences. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 38 (Serial No. 153).Google Scholar
  15. Clarke-Stewart, K. A. (1978). And daddy makes three: The father’s impact on mother and young child. Child Development, 49, 446–478.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Emde, R., Gaensbauer, T., & Harmon, R. (1976). Emotional expression in infancy: A biobehavioral study. Psychological Issues, 10 (Monograph 37).Google Scholar
  17. Erikson, E. (1950). Childhood and society. New York: Norton.Google Scholar
  18. Fein, G. G. (1979). Echoes from the nursery: Piaget, Vygotsky, and the relationship between language and play. New directions for child development: Fact, fiction, and fantasy in childhood, 6, 1–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Fein, G. G., & Apfel, N. (1979). The development of play: Style, structure, and situations. Genetic Psychology Monographs, 99, 231–250.Google Scholar
  20. Fenson, L., Kagan, J., Kearsley, R. B., & Zelazo, P. R. (1976). The developmental progression of manipulative play in the first two years. Child Development, 47, 232–236.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Fenson, L., & Ramsey, D. S. (1980). Decentration and integration of the child’s play in the second year. Child Development, 51, 171–178.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Frodi, A., Bridges, L., & Grolnick, W. (1984). Determinants and correlates of mastery motivation: A short-term longitudinal study of infants in their second year. Manuscript under review, University of Rochester.Google Scholar
  23. Garvey, C. (1974). Some properties of social play. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 20, 163–180.Google Scholar
  24. Gottlieb, S. (1973). Modeling effects upon fantasy. In S. L. Singer (Ed.), The child’s world of make believe: Experimental studies of imaginative play. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  25. Harmon, R., Suwalsky, J., & Klein, R. (1979). Infants’ preferential response for mother versus an unfamiliar adult: Relationship to attachment. Journal of the American Academy of Child Psychiatry and Psychology, 437–449.Google Scholar
  26. Harnick, F. (1978). The relationship between ability level and task difficulty in producing imitation in infants. Child Development, 49, 209–212.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Harter, S. (1980). A model of mastery motivation in children: Individual differences and developmental change. In A. Collins (Ed.), Minnesota Symposium on Child Psychology, (Vol. 14 ). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  28. Hrncir, E. J., Speller, G. M., & West, M. (1985). What are we testing? A cross-cultural comparison of infant competence. Developmental Psychology, 21, 226–232.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Jeffree, D., & McConkey, R. (1976). An observation scheme for recording children’s imaginative doll play. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 17, 189–197.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Jennings, K. D., Harmon, R. J., Morgan, G. A., Gaiter, J. L., & Yarrow, L. J. (1979). Exploratory play as an index of mastery motivation: Relationships to persistence, cognitive functioning, and environmental measures. Developmental Psychology, 15, 386–394.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Lamb, M. E. (1976). Interactions between two year olds and their mothers and fathers. Psychological Reports, 38, 447–450.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Lamb, M. E. (1981). The development of father-infant relationships. In M. Lamb (Ed.), The role of the father in child development, (pp. 10–63 ). New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  33. Lewis, M. & Goldberg, S. (1969). Perceptual-cognitive development in infancy: A generalized expectancy model as a function of the mother-infant interaction. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 15, 81–100.Google Scholar
  34. Lowe, M. (1975). Trends in the development of representational play in infants from one to three years: An observational study. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 16, 33–47.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. McCall, R. B. (1974a). The development of intellectual functioning in infancy and the prediction of later I.Q. In J. Osofsky (Ed.), The handbook of infant development. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  36. McCall, R. B. (1974b). Exploratory motivation and play in the human infant. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 39 (Serial Number 155).Google Scholar
  37. McCall, R. B., Eichorn, D. H., & Hogarty, P. S. (1977). Transitions in early mental development. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 42 (Serial No. 171).Google Scholar
  38. McCall, R., Parke, R., & Kavanaugh, R. (1977). Imitation of live and televised models by children one to three years of age. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 42 (Serial No. 173).Google Scholar
  39. Morgan, G. A., Harmon, R. J., Gaiter, J. L., Jennings, K. D., Gist, N. F., & Yarrow, L. J. (1977). A method for assessing mastery motivation in one-year-old infants. JSAS Catalog of Selected Documents in Psychology, 7, 68.Google Scholar
  40. Nicolich, L. M. (1977). Beyond sensorimotor intelligence: Assessment of symbolic maturity through analysis of pretend play. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 23, 89–99.Google Scholar
  41. Parke, R., & Tinsley, B. (1981). The father’s role in infancy: Determinants in caregiving and play. In M. Lamb (Ed.), The role of the father in child development, ( 2nd ed., pp. 140–184 ). New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  42. Piaget, J. (1952). The origins of intelligence in children, (M. Cook, Trans.). New York: International Universities Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Riksen-Walraven, J. M. (1978). Effects of caregiver behavior on habituation rate and self-efficacy in infants. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 1, 105–130.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Rosenblatt, D. (1977). Developmental trends in infant play. In B. Tizard & D. Harvey (Eds.), Biology of play: Clinics in developmental medicine, No. 62 (pp. 33–44 ). Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott.Google Scholar
  45. Rubenstein, J. (1967). Maternal attentiveness and subsequent exploratory behavior. Child Development, 38, 1089–1100.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Rubin, K., Fein, G., & Vandenberg, B. (1983). Play. In E. M. Hetherington (Ed.), Handbook of child psychology: Social development, (pp. 693–774 ). New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  47. Scallon, R. (1976). Conversations with a one year old. Honolulu: University Press of Hawaii.Google Scholar
  48. Slobin, D., & Welsh, C. (1973). Elicited imitation as a research tool in developmental psycholinguistics. In C. A. Ferguson & D. I. Slobin (Eds.), Studies of child language development. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston.Google Scholar
  49. Ulvand, S. E. (1980). Cognition and motivation in early infancy: An interactionistic approach. Human Development, 23, 17–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Uzgiris, I. (1976). Organization of sensorimotor intelligence. In M. Lewis (Ed.), Origins of intelligence, (pp. 123–164 ). New York: Plenum Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Watson, M., & Fischer, K. (1977). A developmental sequence of agent use in late infancy. Child Development, 48, 828–836.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Watson, M., & Fischer, K. (1980). Development of social roles in elicited and spontaneous behavior during the preschool years. Developmental Psychology, 16, 483–494.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Weisler, A., & McCall, R. B. (1976). Exploration and play: Resume and redirection. American Psychologist, 31, 492–508.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. White, R. (1959). Motivation reconsidered: The concept of competence. Psychological Review, 66, 297–333.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Yarrow, L. J. ( 1976, October). The origins of mastery motivation. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Child Psychiatry, Toronto.Google Scholar
  56. Yarrow, L. J., & Messer, D. J. (1983). Motivation and cognition in infancy. In M. Lewis (Ed.), Origins of intelligence, ( 2nd ed., pp. 451–477 ). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  57. Yarrow, L. J., Klein, R. P., Lomonaco, S., & Morgan, G. A. (1975). Cognitive and motivational development in early childhood. In B. Z. Friedlander, G. M. Sterritt, & G. Kird (Eds.), The exceptional infant, Vol. 3: Assessment and intervention. New York: Bruner/Mazel.Google Scholar
  58. Yarrow, L. J., Morgan, G. A., Jennings, K. D., Harmon, R. J., & Gaiter, J. L. (1982). Infants’ persistence at tasks: Relationships to cognitive functioning and early experience. Infant Behavior and Development, 5, 131–141.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Yarrow, L. J., MacTurk, R. H., Vietze, P. M., McCarthy, M. E., Klein, R. P., & McQuiston, S. (1984). The developmental course of parental stimulation and its relationship to mastery motivation during infancy. Developmental Psychology, 20, 492–503.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joan Vondra
    • 1
  • Jay Belsky
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Psychology in EducationUniversity of PittsburghPittsburghUSA
  2. 2.Department of Individual and Family StudiesThe Pennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA

Personalised recommendations