If you think playfulness is associated only with childhood, you may be wrong.
A new study suggests that playfulness in adults is a positive trait which may help them to see things from new perspectives, turn monotonous tasks into something interesting as well as help them when choosing partners and in romantic relationships.
The study showed that playful people are able to reinterpret situations in their lives so that they experience them as entertaining or are able to reduce stress levels.
People who describe themselves as playful are also viewed by others as such.
Playfulness should not be equated with humour. Instead we need a new vocabulary to describe it, said Rene Proyer from Martin Luther University (MLU) in Halle-Wittenberg, Germany.
“Playfulness is an independent personality trait that shares certain aspects with five global dimensions — including extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, openness to experience and emotional stability that are frequently used to describe personality — but which cannot be interchanged,” Proyer explained.
In the study, the researchers identified four basic types of playful adults.
“There are people who like to fool around with friends and acquaintances. We describe this as other-directed playfulness. By contrast, light-heartedly playful people regard their whole life as a type of game,” Proyer said.
Another category includes people who like to play with thoughts and ideas — this describes intellectual playfulness. These people are able to turn monotonous tasks into something interesting.
The psychologist describes the final group as being whimsically playful. “These people tend to be interested in strange and unusual things and are amused by small day-to-day observations.”
Conversely, playfulness in adults has also been associated with negative connotations.
Playful people are sometimes not taken seriously or are seen as unreliable, as they may easily change perspectives to find unusual and novel solutions, to complex problems.