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Empirical research has provided a substantial amount of backing to Vygotksy’s theory. However, several implications question the validity and reliability of the findings. Firstly, most research has been conducted with small samples (e.g Elder & Pederson, 1978). Use of small samples in experimental designs may assume false premises (Faber & Fonesca, 2014). Thus, producing a possible insignificant finding. Secondly, all experimental research employed great control over extraneous variables. This may be necessary in establishing a valid cause and effect relationship. However, it results in findings that may not be generalisable to the general population. For instance, Elder and Pederson pretested children in order to judge their eligibility into the study of symbolic play. This means only children familiar to the objects used in the experiment may be generalisable to the findings. On the other hand, longitudinal studies like the one employed by Orr & Geva (2015) have several benefits. Longitudinal designs allow experimenters to determine patterns of development that may not have been observed with short experimental designs. Language acquisition develops in stages and such study designs encourage in detail and valid findings. On the contrary, a large sample size is required. Orr and Geva’s study had a sample size of 14, thus a weak sample size for establishing causal relationships. Metacommunicative Theory: Gergory Bateson conceptualised the metacommunicative theory of play, where he suggested play as a paradox. Bateson suggested children who take part in pretend play operate at two levels; representing symbols to objects and understanding their own identities (Mellou, 1994). An example of children exhibiting both operations is when they take a short break from their pretend play and efficiently switch from pretend scenarios to their real-life situation (Garvey, 1977; Mellou, 1994). According to metacommunicative theory, children with the help of pretend and sociodramatic play understand the concepts of the roles they exhibit in pretend play (Mellou, 1994) which enhances their self-regulation of emotions. Carlson, White, and Davis-Unger (2014), in their experiment, found children who engaged more in pretend behaviours had increased executive functioning abilities. Furthermore, pre-school children show a correlation between the quality of pretend play and their ability to self-regulate their emotions (Slot et al., 2017). Self-regulation and metacommunicative are functions related to executive functioning, and thus evidence presented suggests the role of play towards concept formation.
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