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The Evolutionary and Psychological Significance of Play
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In honor of Stanley A. Kuczaj, II

June 12-14, 2016   |   Chicago, Illinois, USA


Stanley A. Kuczaj, II

Stanley A. Kuczaj, II
University of Southern Mississippi
(1951-2016)

 
Organizers:

Lance Miller
Chicago Zoological
Society -
Brookfield Zoo

Email
Website

Alex de Voogt
American Museum of
Natural History in
New York

Email
Website

38 shades of play: A digital event on the science of a
diverse and pervasive behavior

We all know what it means to play. We play badminton, we play with others, we are playfully exploring an environment…. Come to think of it, there is so much to playing, what does it mean to play? According to the Oxford English dictionary, the word “play” has a total of 38 meanings – ranging from 28 shades of the verb to 10 variants of the noun. On top of that, play is not just confined to humans but is also common across many animal species.

This digital event focused on the psychology of play. The event coincided with the publication of a special issue of Learning & Behavior on The Evolutionary and Psychological Significance of Play. The issue was guest edited by Alex De Voogt (American Museum of Natural History) and Lance Miller (Chicago Zoological Society).

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Description
This Psychonomic Society Leading Edge Workshop will explore the evolutionary and psychological significance of play. Although members of a myriad array of species play, all play is not the same.  Species that play differ in terms of the forms and functions of their play and so it is possible that the evolutionary benefits of play vary from species to species. If so, is it the case that the evolutionary significance of play varies systematically, with additional benefits being added as species increase in cognitive or social complexity? Or are the benefits of play distributed more equally across the animal kingdom? Answers to these questions are necessary in order to determine the general evolutionary significance of play as well as its unique benefits for individual species.  Of course, the evolutionary and psychological significance of play are intimately connected. The play of individuals as well as species varies, and the consequences of individual variation as well as the implications of species differences must be considered to ascertain the manner in which play influences an individual’s survival and reproductive fitness. In order to build a coherent framework that integrates research on individual differences with that on species differences, the proposed workshop will bring together scientists from the fields of animal behavior, animal welfare, anthropology, neuroscience, evolutionary biology and psychology to define play and its significance.


Participants

         
Cindy Dell
Clark

Pennsylvania
State University
Alex de Voogt
American
Museum of
Natural History 
Vladimir Dinets
University of
Tennessee,
Knoxville
 
Tracy Gleason
Wellesley
College
 
Fernand Gobet
University of
Liverpool 
     
Artin Goncu
University of
Illinois at
Chicago
 
Martine
Hausberger

University of
Rennes
Heather Hill
St. Mary's
University
 
Angeline
Lillard

University of
Virginia 
Lance Miller
Chicago
Zoological
Society -
Brookfield Zoo
 
          
Mathias Osvath
Lund University
Elisabetta
Palagi

University of
Pisa 
Jaak Panksepp
Washington
State University
 
Sergio Pellis
University of
Lethbridge 
Jeff Rushen
University of
British
Columbia 
         
Marek Špinka
Institute of 
Animal Science,
Czechia
       



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