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Pretend Play and Social and Emotional Development in Childhood


Cardiff School of Psychology

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Prof K Shelton , Dr Amy Paine No more applications being accepted Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
Cardiff United Kingdom Child Psychology Developmental Psychology

About the Project

Developmental and social-constructivist theorists argue that close and intimate relationships with significant others such as parents, siblings, and friends provide the context for individuals’ social, emotional, language, and cognitive development (Carpendale & Lewis, 2015). Within the context of these close relationships, children construct their knowledge of the social world (e.g., social understanding) as they learn to understand others’ perspectives and to express their emotions, intentions, goals, and beliefs (Paine, Hashmi, Roberts, Fyfield, & Hay, 019; Paine, Howe, Karajian, Hay, & DeHart, 2019). Pretend play requires complex cognitive abilities because it requires children to disassociate reality from fantasy and entertain multiple hypothetical realities (Lillard, 2002). For example, children may perform object substitutions (e.g., using a banana as a telephone), attribute pretend properties (e.g., pretending an empty cup contains tea) or interact with imaginary objects (e.g., talking to an imaginary person; Rao & Gibson, 2019).

Although a large body of studies have examined the role of pretend play in children’s language and cognitive development (e.g., Quinn, Donnelly, & Kidd, 2018), less attention has been paid to the role of pretend play in children’s emotional development. Pretend play is proposed to afford children with opportunities to explore and make sense of emotionally challenging situations and try out emotional responses in a safe context. When pretend play is social, it enables children to explore emotions with their play partner (Rao & Gibson, 2019). Social pretend play also requires children to coordinate their perspectives and communicate effectively, thus making it an ideal context for social and emotional understanding (Lillard 2002).

The overarching objectives of this project will be to (1) investigate children’s social pretend play as it relates to markers of their social and emotional development, and (2) examine the protective role of pretend play for children who have experienced emotional challenges and adversity in early life. This studentship will afford the opportunity for the candidate to develop skills in data collection with children and families, observational data coding, longitudinal data analysis, academic presentations and preparation of work for peer review and potential publication.

The successful candidate will be supervised by Professor Katherine Shelton and Dr. Amy Paine and will be based in the Cardiff University Centre for Human Developmental Science. The successful candidate will also join a team of national and international collaborators (Professor Peter Mitchell, University of Nottingham, and Professor Nina Howe, Concordia University).

The successful candidate will be supervised by Professor Katherine Shelton and Dr. Amy Paine and will be based in the Cardiff University Centre for Human Developmental Science. The successful candidate will also join a team of national and international collaborators (Professor Peter Mitchell, University of Nottingham, and Professor Nina Howe, Concordia University).

The studentship will commence in October 2021 and will cover your tuition fees (at UK level) as well as a maintenance grant. In 2020-21 the maintenance grant for full-time students was £15,285 per annum. As well as tuition fees and a maintenance grant, all School of Psychology students receive access to courses offered by the University’s Doctoral Academy and become members of the University Doctoral Academy.

As only one studentship is available and a very high standard of applications is typically received, the successful applicant is likely to have a very good first degree (a First or Upper Second class BSc Honours or equivalent) and/or be distinguished by having relevant research experience.


Funding Notes

This studentship is open to Home, EU or international students. The award offered will cover Home fees and maintenance stipend. International/EU candidates are welcomed but may need to self-fund the difference between Home and International fees.

However, there are a limited number of studentships available for international/EU applicants that can cover full or partial fees

References

The Cardiff University Centre for Human Development Science (CUCHDS) provides opportunities for research and training in the study of human development from conception to adulthood.
https://www.cardiff.ac.uk/psychology/research/development-and-health/cardiff-university-centre-for-human-developmental-science-cuchds
Applicants should apply to the Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology with a start date of October 2021
In the research proposal section of your application, please specify the project title and supervisors of this project and copy the project description in the text box provided. In the funding section, please select 'I will be applying for a scholarship/grant' and specify that you are applying for advertised funding from Pretend Play and Social and Emotional Development in Childhood.
Deadline for applications is the 19th March 2021 with interviews taking place in April 2021


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