Playful teasing and the emergence of pretence

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Downloads (Pure)


The study of the emergence of pretend play in developmental psychology has generally been restricted to analyses of children’s play with toys and everyday objects. The widely accepted criteria for establishing pretence are the child’s manipulation of object identities, attributes or existence. In this paper we argue that there is another arena for pretending—playful pretend teasing—which arises earlier than pretend play with objects and is therefore potentially relevant for understanding the more general emergence of pretence. We present examples of playful pretend teasing in infancy before and around the end of the first year, involving pretend communicative gestures, mis-labelling and almost non-compliance with prohibitions. We argue that the roots of pretence not only lie earlier in human infancy than generally acknowledged, but also are rooted in playful emotional exchanges in which people recognise and respond to violations of communicative gestures and agreements.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1023-1041
Number of pages19
JournalPhenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences
Early online date15 Mar 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2022


  • playful teasing
  • pretend play
  • infancy
  • emotional engagements
  • symbolic play
  • UKRI
  • ESRC
  • R000235481


Dive into the research topics of 'Playful teasing and the emergence of pretence'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this