Solitary‐functional Play and Solitary‐pretend Play: Another Look at the Construct of Solitary‐active Behavior Using Playground Observations


social withdrawal, solitary‐active withdrawal, playground


Although the construct of solitary‐active behavior calls for the aggregation of solitary‐functional play and solitary‐pretend play, there is little empirical support for combining them into one construct. Furthermore, little work has been done in early childhood to examine these behaviors on the playground. The purpose of this study was to observe children's behavior on the playground to explore whether solitary‐functional and solitary‐pretend behaviors are related to one another and to other indices of social adjustment/maladjustment. Examining a sample of 361 preschoolers, results revealed that (1) solitary‐functional and solitary‐pretend play were not related, (2) solitary‐functional play was associated with solitary‐passive and reticent behaviors, as well as less social play, co‐operative rough and tumble play, sociable/friendliness, assertiveness, and lower peer acceptance, and (3) solitary‐pretend play was linked to lower peer acceptance and more social maladjustment, including venting, reactive aggression (but not proactive aggression), active exclusion, victimization, and being distractible.

Original Publication Citation

Nelson, L. J., Hart, C. H., & *Evans, C. A. (2008). Solitary-functional play and Solitary-pretend play: Another look at the construct of solitary – active behavior using playground observations. Social Development, 17, 812-831.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


Social Development




Family, Home, and Social Sciences



University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor