Licensed clinical psychologist and doctoral student.
We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.
- George Bernard Shaw
As a construct, adult play and playfulness is not easily defined. Play can be defined as an absorbing and intrinsically motivated activity that is apparently purposeless and provides enjoyment and a suspension of self-consciousness. Or as a structured and voluntary activity in which means are more valued than ends, it being of an imaginative nature and in someway non-serious, having rules, and involving an active yet non-stressed frame of mind. Regardless of definition however, play is a behavioral approach to any given task. Anything we do can be done in a playful manner since play is more of a state of mind than a particular activity.
Play is suggested by evolutionary biologists as a source of behavioral variety and it is not too far of a stretch to suggest that play may also be a source of mental and creative fluency. Play might facilitate the flexible thinking that leads to novelty and variation. Many of the aspects of play and creativity seem interwoven. The idea that play might positively impact creativity has been more of a theoretical focus, and my research aims to empirically test the idea.
The first aim of my research is to develop a theoretically sound model of adult play suitable for organizational contexts. The second aim is to test this model in a variety of real-life organizational settings. The third aim is to test its impact on creativity in a controlled intervention study. This will to my knowledge be the first project examining the impact of an adult play activity on creativity in organizations.
My current study investigates the notions that creativity consultants have of play as a facilitator of creativity in the workplace. The results, together with theories of play, will lay the foundation for the development of a model of adult play that will be used in the following two studies.
Future studies will then empirically test this model in real life organizational setting.
www.creativitynetwork.eu (European Network for Interdisciplinary Creativity Knowledge; NICK)
www.lundcreativitynetwork.se (Lund University Creativity & Knowledge; LUCK)
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Brown, S. (2009). Play: how it shapes the brain, opens the imagination, and invigorates the soul: The Penguin Group.
Charalampos Mainemelis, Sarah Ronson, Ideas are Born in Fields of Play: Towards a Theory of Play and Creativity in Organizational Settings (2006) Research in Organizational Behavior, Volume 27, Research in Organizational Behavior - An Annual Series of Analytical Essays and Critical Reviews.
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Gray, P. (2009). Play as a Foundation for Hunter-Gatherer Social Existence. The American Journal of Play, 1(4), 476-522.
Hennessey, B., & Amabile, T. (2010). Creativity. [Review]. Annual Review of Psychology, 61, 569-598.
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Spinka, M., Newberry, R. C., & Bekoff, M. (2001). Mammalian play: Training for the unexpected. Quarterly Review of Biology, 76, 141-168.
Statler, M., Roos, J., & Victor, B. (2009). Ain’t Misbehavin’: Taking Play Seriously in Organizations. Journal of Change Management, 9(1), 87-107.
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