The Playful Advantage: How Playfulness Enhances Coping with Stress

Cale D. Magnuson, Lynn A. Barnett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Research on playfulness has long focused on children, while the study of its expression in adulthood has only recently been undertaken. This cross-sectional study investigated the interrelationship between playfulness in young adults, perceived stress, and styles of coping with 898 students from three universities. Findings revealed that playful individuals reported lower levels of perceived stress than their less playful counterparts, and more frequently utilized adaptive, stressor-focused coping strategies and were less likely to employ negative, avoidant, and escape-oriented strategies. The results suggested that playfulness serves a strong adaptive function with university students, providing them with specific cognitive resources from which they can manifest effective coping behaviors in the face of stressful situations. Speculation as to the role of playfulness in fostering resilience is encouraged, and further empirical research on the therapeutic benefits of playfulness should be undertaken from a causal perspective.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)129-144
Number of pages16
JournalLeisure Sciences
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2013


  • coping style
  • playfulness
  • resilience
  • stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management


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