British Journal of Developmental Psychology

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Volume 15 Issue 1 (March 1997), Pages 1-128

Security and symbolic play: The relation between security of attachment and executive capacity (pages 63-76)

The study reported here investigated the relationship between security of attachment and children's solo and instructed symbolic play. Participants were 43 (27 secure and 16 insecure) 21/2‐year‐olds, whose security of attachment had been assessed in infancy. No differences were found in the sophistication of solo symbolic play between the secure and insecure groups, but the securely attached children were better able to incorporate an experimenter's suggestions into their sequences of pretence. In addition, the securely attached children were found to have greater ‘executive capacity’ scores (Belsky, Garduque & Hrncir, 1984). These data show that securely attached children are better able to benefit from the play suggestions of an unfamiliar adult, and thus extend the findings of Slade (1987) on maternal enhancement of children's play. The relationship between security of attachment and response to suggestions for symbolic play is discussed within a Vygotskian framework, and the possibility that these results are evidence for the greater social responsiveness and flexibility of securely attached children is addressed.

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