Play and Emotion

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Book Chapter

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The most important feature in interpreting observed emotions in both humans and animals is the context in which the assumed emotion occurs. The same can be said for play. Wrestling between two individuals can be interpreted as either aggressive or playful depending on the amount of self-handicapping, mutual pauses, and damaging fighting tactics that occur during the wrestling bout. Play and emotion are intimately intertwined, and this relationship provides an invaluable context in which to study emotions. In this chapter, we discuss the inherent difficulties in the investigation of play and emotion. We also consider the roles of solitary and social play behavior in individuals’ acquisition of both physical and mental skills, including the manner in which play may facilitate the manipulation of one’s own emotions in pretense and the ability to correctly interpret and respond to a play partner’s emotions.

Publication Title

Emotions of Animals and Humans

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