The Hour of Play is an experimental research project looking at ways in which play can facilitate creative thinking in adults. By focusing on a problem solving approach to creativity the study looks at the links between two seemingly related fields, psychoanalytical processes and the cognitive approach to creativity. Seen from a neurological viewpoint the two fields appear to describe a similar process. Both can be seen to describe creative thinking in relation to an increased access to the associative network; being described as divergent thinking in the cognitive approach and as primary process in the psychoanalytical literature.
The field of child development shows that fantasy play facilitates access to, and can develop primary process thinking. Research tests with children provide evidence that once engaged, this mode of thinking directly correlates to an affect state that is conducive to creativity as defined by the cognitive approach. The definition of fantasy play is identified and, based on the key determinants of the term, methods are examined that could be used to generate similar processes in adults.
An action research methodology was undertaken in the form of workshops that encouraged specific play related activities within adults. Correlations between play and an increase in associative thinking, in highly creative and lesser creative individuals, were found to occur that appear to correspond with theories of both psychoanalysis and creativity. These findings are discussed in relation to both the literature of child development and the cognitive approach. Project limitations and the potential for further theoretical and applied research are also presented. Based on the findings a model for an empirical research test which could show that play can benefit creative thinking in adults is presented as a conclusion.