Graduation Year


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Shiela Walker

Reader 2

Jennifer Groscup

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Rights Information

© 2016 Maria Weiss


The effect of pretend play on 150 (~ 75 girls; 75 boys; M=3 yro) preschool children’s social cognition will be assessed through a semester long intervention study. Research has reported a trend of female superiority in empathy and ToM and a likelihood of young girls to engage in pretend play more frequently and to a higher degree than young boys. Previous research has also found a relationship between play and social cognition, as through the act of imagination, one is able to thoroughly take on the perspectives of someone other than the self. This study attempts to show a shift in these mental capabilities after an extensive engagement in pretend play (more than seen in a typical preschool classroom). Boys are expected to reach equal levels of ToM and empathy of their female peers after the intervention. This study attempts to hopefully find an intervention to instill higher levels of empathy in developing children and to support the need for more creative free play in the classroom.