Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Pretend play is a developmental process linked to both cognition and socioemotional functioning (e.g., Frahsek et al., 2010; Russ, 2004). The connection between pretend play and development supports the clinical utility of play as a tool for emotional and behavioral health assessment and intervention. Despite this strength, play-based measures are underutilized and often lack psychometric integrity (Shicke Athanasiou, 2000). The Affect in Play Scale (APS) and Affect in Play Scale-Preschool version (APS-P) are comparable play-based tasks adapted for different age groups. In particular, the APS-P is used with children ages 4-6 years while the APS is used with children ages 6-10 years. The measures have strong research support and theoretic basis, including consistently impressive validity and reliability (e.g., Delvecchio et al., 2016; Fehr & Russ, 2014; Kaugars & Russ, 2009; Russ, 2004). However, there is overlap in that either measure could be administered to six-year-old children, and it is unclear if children would perform equally across both measures. Only one study has specifically examined correspondence between the two measures and the impact of which task is selected (i.e., APS or APS-P) on cognitive and affective scores observed, and this study examined the play of Italian children (Mazzeschi et al., 2008). The current study explored the correspondence and agreement of cognitive, affective, and type of play (e.g., functional, pretend play) APS and APS-P scores in a US sample, as well as the impact of administration type (i.e., whether the APS or APS-P were administered) on differences between obtained scores. A sample of 27 six- and seven-year-old children were included in the current analyses. Results indicated high correlations between APS and APS-P scores. However, absolute agreement was variable, ranging from good to poor. With the exception of Functional Play, children had significant differences in their scores between the APS and APS-P. Overall, results suggest that children tended to obtain higher play scores on the APS-P than the APS. Given the strong clinical utility of play-based measures, further research is needed on the APS and APS-P to explore the factors that may impact observed differences in order to guide future clinical use and measure selection for specific uses. Additional clinical implications, strengths, limitations, and future directions are discussed.
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