THE BENEFITS OF DOLL PLAY ACCORDING TO NEUROSCIENCE
Barbie® and neuroscientists from Cardiff University have collaborated on a multi-year study which for the first time uses neuroimaging as evidence to explore the effects of doll play.1 At Barbie, we’ve always known there are many benefits of playing with dolls and now there is scientific evidence that supports it.
HOW DOLL PLAY STIMULATES THE BRAIN
The study monitored the brain activity of children ages 4-8 as they played with a range of Barbie dolls and playsets. The key findings applies to all children, regardless of gender or ethnicity:
Doll play activates brain regions that allow children to develop social processing skills like empathy.
The brain activation that develops empathy is evidenced even when the child is playing with dolls by themselves.
When playing with dolls children use increased language about others’ thoughts and emotions. This allows them to practice social skills they can use when interacting with people in the real world.
WHY EMPATHY IS IMPORTANT
When children create imaginary worlds and role play with dolls like Barbie, it prompts them to talk about their thoughts about others’ emotions and feelings. This can have positive long-lasting effects on children, building social and emotional processing social skills like empathy.
Empathy is an important indicator of children’s future success. According to globally recognized educational psychologist Dr. Michele Borba, empathy allows children to:
Understand other points of view, helping them to be better collaborators, leaders, and parents.
Foster successful relationships and conflict resolution skills.
Build resilience which helps their ability to bounce back from adversity.
TEN TIPS FOR DEVELOPING EMPATHY
70% of parents are concerned with how social distancing might affect their children’s interactions with others.2 Encouraging empathy helps children develop the skills needed to navigate an ever-changing world with confidence and compassion.
Here are 10 tips from Dr. Michele Borba on how to teach empathy, by incorporating doll play as a useful tool.
MEET OUR RESEARCH PARTNERS
Cardiff University in the United Kingdom is globally recognized as an authority in developmental neuroscience. The Cardiff University School of Psychology was ranked among the top 3 universities in the U.K. for research in psychology, psychiatry, and neuroscience.