An ethological study of the exploratory and play behaviour of pre-school children.
The behaviour of a group of nursery school children with respect to a novel object in a familiar playground was recorded on videotape and film. Recording sessions of half an hour's duration took place on 5 consecutive days. The behaviour was analysed according to receptor-contact patterns, and recurring patterns of behaviour derived from McGrew's (1972) list of social behaviour patterns. Evidence is discussed to support the hypothesis that group exploratory behaviour contained elements of wariness and competition as well as a general trend from specific to diversive exploration (Berlyne 1960). Sex differences in exploratory behaviour are discussed as well as the proposition that boys are generally more suited to an active exploratory role whereas girls tend to perform a communicative role.