4 Types of Playfulness and How It Gives You an Advantage
When we’re kids, playing is what you do. It’s how we engage with the world. How we learn.
As adults, playfulness is something we usually leave behind. It’s a fond memory of childhood, but not what mature people do.
New research, though, says we shouldn’t just let kids have all the fun. Psychologists have identified several different types of playfulness and how it gives us a number of benefits.
How Playfulness Gives You An Advantage
People say you should act your age. I prefer to be young at heart, so I’m not a big fan of that particular cliché. When I’m 75, I’d rather be attacking life with the attitude of someone who’s still 30.
A new study, published in Personality and Individual Differences, argues that maybe playfulness isn’t something we need to grow out of.
Adult playfulness isn’t a widely studied topic. Much of what we know comes from researching it in children.
Psychologists say this causes a problem when looking at playfulness in the adult world. To studyi it from more complex adult situations, such as romantic relationships or deeper intellectual pursuits.
To study it as an adult personality trait, the experts had to use a new model. Which included four different types of playfulness.
Which Playful Type Are You?
The experts say that in day to day situations playfulness can be exhibited in a variety of ways. Here’s the 4 types with a quick description of each.
1.Other-directed. Are likely to kid around more with friends, family, and other acquaintances.
2.Light-hearted. Their view of life is generally less serious. They can regard life as one big game.
3.Whimsical. Found to be interested in strange and unusual things. Amused by small and everyday observations.
4.Intellectual. Enjoy playing around with ideas, concepts, and thoughts. Can make dull and monotonous tasks into something more interesting.
Psychologists from the study also point out that playfulness and humor are not the same thing. Which can be a bit confusing, as humor often accompanies playful behavior. But they argue that the two are distinct from one another.
Playfulness itself is also classified as a personality trait. It also shares some characteristics with the Big 5 personality traits, such as extraversion, openness to experience, and conscientiousness. But the study’s authors say it’s also distinct:
Playfulness is an independent personality trait that shares certain aspects with these five global dimensions but which cannot be interchanged.
The Benefits of Being a Playful Adult
Here’s the best part, and also a big reason why you, too, should also stay young at heart. The psychologists find that playfulness can have a number of benefits as an adult.
The study identified that playful adults are better at observations, are better able to see things from a different perspective, and are able to turn boring tasks into something more fun. But his ability to see things from other points of view has two more big advantages.
Playfulness not only makes things more entertaining, but also allows people to reduce levels of stress in their lives. Giving them better resilience to deal with problems that life loves to throw at us. And the other big advantage?
Here’s the lead author of the study:
When looking for solutions to complex problems, they can easily change perspectives. This allows them to find unusual and novel solutions.
In other words, playful people exhibit behaviors which keep them more engaged in life. The study implies that they’re more mentally flexible, keep themselves motivated, and have more fun.
Should You Be Serious or Playful?
The psychologists say that playfulness should be regarded as a positive trait, even though some people might regard it as immature or unreliable.
You should also know that the benefits of playfulness include more than just creativity and stress reduction. Other research has pointed out that playfulness is also found to be an attractive quality for both men and women. It’s also been linked to better academic grades.
There are always going to be situations that require a serious demeanor. But for most day to day situations, it seems we might benefit from erring on the side of playfulness.