Skip to main content

Pretend Play in Italian Children: Validation of the Affect in Play Scale-Preschool Version

Abstract

Despite the emerging literature supporting the central role of pretend play for children’s cognitive, affective and social development, there is a paucity of standardized and validated measures devoted to assess it, especially for preschoolers. In addition, most of the existing tools failed in their attempt to assess the interplay among the different developmental domains which are involved in playing activities. The Affect in Play Scale-Preschool version is a semi-structured measure to assess cognitive and affective pretend play processes in children aged 4–5 using a 5-min standardized play task. This study was aimed to evaluate the construct and external validity of the scale in a sample of Italian preschoolers. A multi-group factor analysis confirmed the adequacy of the two-factor model with cognitive and affective factor for both 4- and 5-year-old children. No differences were found between boys and girls whereas older children reported higher play abilities. Correlations between pretend play, divergent thinking, teacher’s measures of temperament and prosocial behavior were carried out. Results supported the use of APS-P as a valid tool for assessing the interplay of cognitive and affective abilities in Italian children.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1

References

  1. Berdan, L. E., Keane, S. P., & Calkins, S. D. (2008). Temperament and externalizing behavior: Social preference and perceived acceptance as protective factors. Developmental Psychology, 44, 957–968.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  2. Bergen, D. (2002). The role of pretend play in children’s cognitive development: An internet journal on the development, care, and education of young children. Early Childhood Research & Practice, 4. Retrieved from http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED464763.pdf

  3. Berk, L. E., Mann, T. D., & Ogan, A. T. (2006). Make-Believe play: Wellspring for development of self-regulation. In D. Singer, R. M. Golinkoff, & K. A. Hirsh-Pasek (Eds.), Play = Learning: How play motivates and enhances children’s cognitive and social-emotional growth (pp. 74–100). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  4. Butcher, J., & Niec, L. N. (2005). Disruptive behaviors and creativity: The importance of affect regulation. Creativity Research Journal, 17, 181–194.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Chen, F. F. (2007). Sensitivity of goodness of fit indexes to lack of measurement invariance. Structural Equation Modeling: A Multidisciplinary Journal, 14, 464–504. doi:10.1080/10705510701301834.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Chessa, D., Di Riso, D., Delvecchio, E., Salcuni, S., & Lis, A. (2011). The Affect in Play Scale: Confirmatory factor analysis in elementary school children. Psychological Reports, 109, 759–774.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  7. Chessa, D., Lis, A., Di Riso, D., Delvecchio, E., Mazzeschi, C., Russ, S. W., & Dillon, J. (2012). A cross-cultural comparison of pretend play in U.S. and Italian children. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 44, 640–656.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Cheung, G. W., & Rensvold, R. B. (2002). Evaluating goodness-of-fit indexes for testing measurement invariance. Structural Equation Modeling, 9, 233–255. doi:10.1207/S15328007SEM0902_5.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Christian, K., Russ, S., & Short, E. (2011). Pretend play processes and anxiety: Considerations for the play therapist. International Journal of Play Therapy, 20, 179–192.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Christiano, B. A., & Russ, S. W. (1996). Play as a predictor of coping and distress in children during invasive dental procedure. Journal of Clinical Child Psychology, 25, 130–138. doi:10.1207/s15374424jccp2502_1.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Christie, J. F., & Johnsen, E. P. (1983). The role of play in social-intellectual development. Review of Educational Research, 53, 93–115.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Cohen, J. (1988). Set correlation and contingency tables. Applied Psychological Measurement, 12, 425–434.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Crick, N. R., Casas, J. F., & Mosher, M. (1997). Relational and overt aggression in preschool. Developmental Psychology, 33, 579–588.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  14. Crick, N. R., Ostrov, J. M., Burr, J. E., Cullerton-Sen, C., Jansen-Yeh, E., & Ralston, P. (2006). A longitudinal study of relational and physical aggression in preschool. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 27, 254–268.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Denham, S. A., Zoller, D., & Couchoud, E. A. (1994). Preschoolers’ causal understanding of emotion and its socialization. Developmental Psychology, 30, 928–936.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Dimitrov, D. M. (2010). Testing for factorial invariance in the context of construct validation. Measurement and Evaluation in Counseling and Development, 43, 121–149.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Edwards, A., Eisenberg, N., Spinrad, T. L., Reiser, M., Eggum-Wilkens, N. D., & Liew, J. (2015). Predicting sympathy and prosocial behavior from young children’s dispositional sadness. Social Development, 24, 76–94. doi:10.1111/sode.12084.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  18. Fehr, K., & Russ, S. W. (2013). Aggressive pretend play in preschoolers: A comparison of aggressive pretend play and aggressive behavior in the classroom. Early Education and Development, 24, 332–345.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Fehr, K., & Russ, S. W. (2014). Assessment of pretend play in preschool-aged children: Validation and factor analysis of the Affect in Play Scale-Preschool versions. Journal of Personality Assessment, 96, 350–357. doi:10.1080/00223891.2013.838171.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  20. Fein, G. G. (1987). Pretend play: Creativity and consciousness. In D. Görlitz & J. F. Wohlwill (Eds.), Curiosity, imagination, and play: On the development of spontaneous cognitive and motivational processes (pp. 281–304). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

    Google Scholar 

  21. Finch, J. E., Johnson, A. D., & Phillips, D. A. (2015). Is sensitive caregiving in child care associated with children’s effortful control skills?. An exploration of linear threshold effects: Early Childhood Research Quartely. doi:10.1016/j.ecresq.2014.12.007.

    Google Scholar 

  22. Fisher, E. P. (1992). The impact of play on development: A meta-analysis. Play and Culture, 5, 159–181.

    Google Scholar 

  23. Goldstein, A. B., & Russ, S. W. (2000–2001). Understanding children’s literature and its relationship to fantasy ability and coping. Imagination, Cognition and Personality, 20, 105–126.

  24. Hollingshead, A. B. (1975). Four factor index of social status. (Unpublished working paper) New Haven, CT: Yale-University.

  25. Juliano, M., Werner, R. S., & Cassidy, K. W. (2006). The early correlates of preschool aggressive behavior according to type of aggression and measurement. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 27, 395–410.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Kaugars, A. S. (2011). Assessment of pretend play. In S. W. Russ & L. N. Niec (Eds.), An evidence-based approach to play in intervention and prevention: Integrating developmental and clinical science (pp. 51–82). New York, NY: Guilford Press.

    Google Scholar 

  27. Kaugars, A., & Russ, S. (2009). Assessing preschool children’s play: Preliminary validation of the Affect in Play Scale-preschool version. Early Education and Development, 20, 733–755.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Kazdin, A. E. (2005). Parent management training: Treatment for oppositional, aggressive, and antisocial behavior in children and adolescents. New York: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  29. Kelly-Vance, L., Ryalls, B. O., & Glover, K. G. (2002). The use of play assessment to evaluate the cognitive skills of two- and three-year old children. School Psychology International, 23, 169–185.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Kogan, N. (1983). Stylistic variation in childhood and adolescence: Creativity, metaphor, and cognitive styles. In P. Mussen (Ed.), Handbook of child psychology (Vol. 3, pp. 631–706). New York: Wiley.

    Google Scholar 

  31. Lengua, L. J. (2009, January). Effortful control in the context of socioeconomic and psychosocial risk. Psychological Science Agenda. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/science/about/psa/2009/01/lengua.aspx

  32. Marcelo, A. K., & Yates, T. M. (2014). Prospective relations among preschoolers’ play, coping, and adjustment as moderated by stressful events. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 35, 223–233.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  33. Mash, E. J., & Hunsley, J. (2005). Evidence-based assessment of child and adolescent disorders: Issues and challenges. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 34, 362–379.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  34. Matricardi, G., Albiero, P., & Cigognetti, E. (2010). Self-regulation e condotte sociali nell’età prescolare: Tecniche di misurazione e implicazioni per l’adattamento dei bambini. In E. Baumgartner (Ed.), Gli esordi della competenza emotiva: Strumenti di studio e di valutazione. Milano: Edizioni LED.

    Google Scholar 

  35. Niec, L., & Russ, S. W. (2002). Children’s internal representations, empathy, and fantasy play: A validity study of the SCORS_Q. Psychological Assessment, 14, 331–338.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  36. Oldehinkel, A. J., Hartman, C. A., De Winter, A. F., Veenstra, R., & Ormel, J. (2004). Temperament profiles associated with internalizing and externalizing problems in preadolescence. Development and Psychopathology, 16, 421–440.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  37. Ostrov, J. M. (2008). Forms of aggression and peer victimization during early childhood: A short-term longitudinal study. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 36, 311–322.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  38. Ostrov, J. M., Gentile, D. A., & Crick, N. R. (2006). Media exposure, aggression and prosocial behavior during early childhood: A longitudinal study. Social Development, 15, 612–627.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  39. Ostrov, J. M., & Keating, C. F. (2004). Gender differences in preschool aggression. Social Development, 13, 255–277.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  40. Pellegrini, A. D. (2010). The Oxford handbook of the development of play. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  41. Putnam, S. P., & Rothbart, M. K. (2006). Development of Short and Very Short forms of the Children’s Behavior Questionnaire. Journal of Personality Assessment, 87, 103–113.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  42. R Development Core Team. (2012). Writing R extensions. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna, Austria. http://CRAN.R-Project.org/doc/manuals/R-exts.html

  43. Rosseel, Y. (2012). Lavaan: An R package for structural equation modeling. Journal of Statistical Software, 48, 1–36. http://www.jstatsoft.org/v48/i02/

  44. Rothbart, M. K., Ahadi, S. A., Hershey, K., & Fisher, P. (2001). Investigation of temperament at three to seven years: The Children’s Behavior Questionnaire. Child Development, 72, 1394–1408.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  45. Rothbart, M. K., & Hwang, J. (2005). Temperament and the development of competence and motivation. In A. J. Elliot & C. S. Dweck (Eds.), Handbook of competence and motivation (pp. 167–184). New York: Guilford.

    Google Scholar 

  46. Rothbart, M. K., & Rueda, M. R. (2005). The development of effortful control. In U. Mayr, E. Awh, & S. W. Keele (Eds.), Developing individuality in the human brain: A tribute to Michael I. Posner (pp. 167–188). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  47. Runco, M. A. (1991). Divergent thinking. Norwood, NJ: Ablex.

    Google Scholar 

  48. Russ, S. W. (1993). Affect and creativity: The role of affect and play in creative process. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

    Google Scholar 

  49. Russ, S. W. (2004). Play in child development and psychotherapy: Toward empirically supported practice. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

    Google Scholar 

  50. Russ, S. W. (2006). Pretend play, affect, and creativity. In P. Locher, C. Martindale, & L. Dorfman (Eds.), New directions in aesthetics, creativity, and the arts (pp. 239–250). Amytiville, NY: Baywood Publishing.

    Google Scholar 

  51. Russ, S. W. (2012). Creativity and play. In M. Runco (Ed.), The creativity research handbook (pp. 103–132). New York: Hampton Press.

    Google Scholar 

  52. Russ, S. W., & Dillon, J. A. (2010). Changes in children’s pretend play over the two decades. Cleveland, OH: Case Reserve Western University.

  53. Russ, S. W., & Dillon, J. A. (2011). Changes in children’s pretend play over two decades. Creativity Research Journal, 23, 330–338.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  54. Russ, S. W., & Grossman-McKee, A. (1990). Affective expression in children’s fantasy play, primary process thinking on the Rorschach, and divergent thinking. Journal of Personality Assessment, 54, 756–771.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  55. Russ, S. W., & Kaugars, A. S. (2001). Emotion in children’s play and creative problem solving. Creativity Research Journal, 13, 211–219.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  56. Russ, S. W., & Niec, L. N. (2012). Play in clinical practice: Evidence-based approaches. New York, NY: Guilford press.

    Google Scholar 

  57. Russ, S. W., & Schafer, E. D. (2006). Affect in fantasy play, emotion in memories, and divergent thinking. Creativity Research Journal, 18, 347–354. doi:10.1207/s15326934crj1803_9.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  58. Schussler, L. E. (2012). The development of the children’s behavior questionnaire, teacher version (CBQ-T) (Master thesis, Graduate School of the University of Maryland, College Park). Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/1903/13164

  59. Seja, A. L., & Russ, S. W. (1999). Children’s fantasy play and emotional understanding. Journal of Clinical Child Psychology, 28, 269–277.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  60. Shrout, P. E., & Fleiss, J. L. (1979). Intraclass correlations: Uses in assessing rater reliability. Psychological Bulletin, 86, 420–3428.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  61. Singer, D. G., & Singer, J. L. (1990). The house of make believe: Children’s play and the developing imagination. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  62. SPSS Inc. (2009). PASW statistics for windows, Version 18.0. Chicago: SPSS Inc.

  63. Stagnitti, K., Unsworth, C. A., & Rodger, S. (2000). Development of an assessment to identify play behaviours that discriminate between the play of typical preschoolers and preschoolers with pre-academic problems. Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy, 67, 291–303.

    Google Scholar 

  64. Stagnitti, K., van Herwerden, L., Sanigorski, A., Wolfe, A., & Kenna, R. (2007). Structured play program: A program for early childhood settings in the City of Greater Geelong. Retrieved from http://www.karenstagnitti.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/Structured-Active-Play-Book.pdf

  65. Sutton-Smith, B., & Kelly-Byrne, D. (1984). The idealization of play. In P. K. Smith (Ed.), Play in animals and human (pp. 305–322). Oxford: Basil Blackwell.

    Google Scholar 

  66. Thienot, E., Jackson, B., Dimmock, J., Grove, J. R., Bernier, M., & Fournier, J. F. (2014). Development and preliminary validation of the mindfulness inventory for sport. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 15, 72–80.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  67. Uren, N., & Stagnitti, K. (2009). Pretend play, social competence and involvement in children aged 5–7 years: The concurrent validity of the Child-Initiated Pretend Play Assessment. Australian Occupational Therapy Journal, 56, 33–40.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  68. Van de Schoot, R., Lugtig, P., & Hox, J. (2012). A checklist for testing measurement invariance. European Journal of Developmental Psychology, 9, 486–492. doi:10.1080/17405629.2012.686740.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  69. Van de Vijver, F. J. R., & Hambleton, R. K. (1996). Translating tests: Some practical guidelines. European Psychologist, 1, 89–99.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  70. Vandenberg, R. J., & Lance, C. E. (2000). A review and synthesis of the measurement invariance literature: Suggestions, practices, and recommendations for organizational research. Organizational Research Methods, 3, 4–70. doi:10.1177/109442810031002.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  71. Wallach, M. A., & Kogan, N. (1965). Modes of thinking in young children. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.

    Google Scholar 

  72. Wechsler, D. (2008). Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of IntelligenceThird Edition (WPPSI-III) (G. Sanno Fancello & C. Cianchetti, Trans.). Firenze: Giunti O. S.

  73. Westby, C. (2000). A scale for assessing children’s play. In K. Gitlin-Weiner, A. Sandgrund, & C. Schaefer (Eds.), Play diagnosis and assessment (2nd ed., pp. 15–57). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

    Google Scholar 

  74. Yates, T. M., & Marcelo, A. K. (2014). Through race-colored glasses: Preschoolers’ pretend play and teachers’ ratings of preschooler adjustment. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 29, 1–11.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Elisa Delvecchio.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Delvecchio, E., Mabilia, D., Li, JB. et al. Pretend Play in Italian Children: Validation of the Affect in Play Scale-Preschool Version. J Child Fam Stud 25, 86–95 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10826-015-0208-5

Download citation

Keywords

  • Affect in Play Scale-Preschool version
  • Construct validity
  • Symbolic play
  • Italian children