Perceptions and Functions of Play and Real Fighting in Early Adolescence


concerning this article should be addressed to Anthony D. Pellegrini, Department of Educational Psychology, 214 Burton Hall, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN 55455


The hypothesis is tested that adolescent boys' (mean age of 12.8 years) intrasexual rough-and-tumble play (R&T) is used for dominance and intersexual R&T is used to establish heterosexual relationships. In Study 1, boys' observed R&T was related to both dominance and aggression. In the first half of the school year, R&T occurred primarily between males, possibly to establish dominance. In the second half of the year, both boys and girls engaged in R&T, possibly to establish heterosexual relationships. Counter to the hypothesis, observed aggression increased across the year. In Study 2, youngsters viewed taped R&T bouts in which they were participants or nonparticipants. Participant, more than nonparticipant, males saw R&T as related to dominance whereas participant, more than nonparticipant, females saw it as playful.