The nature of playfulness in young adults

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Playful people are uniquely able to transform virtually any environment to make it more stimulating, enjoyable and entertaining. Efforts to more systematically characterize the playful person have proven more fruitful with children than with adults. To determine if playfulness could be identified as a meaningful psychological construct in adults, focus groups of undergraduate students first described characteristics of highly playful and nonplayful people. Six hundred and forty-nine students rated themselves on playfulness and on these descriptors, and then identified and rated others high and low in playfulness. Fifteen qualities were found to uniquely describe a playful individual, resulting in four component qualities of "gregarious", "uninhibited", "comedic" and "dynamic" for both men and women. Participants defined playfulness and its inherent qualities in the same way whether they perceived it in themselves or in others.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)949-958
Number of pages10
JournalPersonality and Individual Differences
Issue number4
StatePublished - Sep 2007


  • Adult play
  • Playfulness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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