#397 Gordon Burghardt: The Evolution And Function of Play
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Dr. Gordon M. Burghardt is Alumni Distinguished Service Professor in the departments of Psychology and Ecology & Evolutionary Biology at the University of Tennessee. His research focus has been on comparative studies of behavioral development in animals with special attention to reptiles, bears, and the evolution of play, as well as historical and theoretical issues in ethology and psychology. He has served as editor or editorial board member of numerous journals and is past president of the Animal Behavior Society and the Society for Behavioral Neuroscience and Comparative Psychology (APA Div. 6). He has edited or co-edited 6 books and authored The Genesis of Animal Play: Testing the Limits (MIT Press, 2005).
In this episode, we talk about the evolution of play. First, we define play from a biological perspective, including five different criteria for a particular behavior to be classified as play. We talk about the three different categories of play (locomotor, object, and social). We also discuss play signals, role reversals, self-handicapping, the diversity of play, its downsides and costs, pseudo-copulatory play in spiders, and the surplus resources theory. Finally, We address of question of play possibly being behind certain elements of human culture, like rituals and religion.
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