The characteristics and correlates of fantasy in school-age children: imaginary companions, impersonation, and social understanding.

  title={The characteristics and correlates of fantasy in school-age children: imaginary companions, impersonation, and social understanding.},
  author={Marjorie Taylor and Stephanie M. Carlson and Bayta L. Maring and Lynn Gerow and C. Charley},
  journal={Developmental psychology},
  volume={40 6},
Past research with 152 preschoolers found that having an imaginary companion or impersonating an imaginary character was positively correlated with theory of mind performance. Three years later, 100 children from this study were retested to assess the developmental course of play with imaginary companions and impersonation of imaginary characters and how these types of role play were related to emotion understanding, self-perception, and personality. The results showed that school-age children… 

Tables from this paper

Imaginary companions, theory of mind and emotion understanding in young children
ABSTRACT The phenomenon of imaginary companions (ICs) has received little attention in developmental psychology, even though it can be observed in approximately 25% of preschool-aged children. Only a
The Assessment of Elaborated Role-Play in Young Children: Invisible Friends, Personified Objects, and Pretend Identities.
Role-play (i.e., pretending in which children imagine and act out the part of another individual) was assessed with child interviews and parent questionnaires about invisible friends, personified
Children with Imaginary Companions Focus on Mental Characteristics When Describing Their Real-Life Friends
Children who had an IC were more likely than their peers without an IC to describe their best friends with reference to their mental characteristics, but IC status was unrelated to children's theory of mind performance and reported prosocial behaviour and behavioural difficulties.
The Impact of Imaginary Companions on Social Development
The imagination and creativity of children is often puzzling to the adult mind. Pretend play and make-believe friends are often prevalent in the life of a child. Past research shows a relationship
A good story: children with imaginary companions create richer narratives.
In line with theories that children's pretend play reflects and extends their narrative skills, children with imaginary companions were predicted to have better narrative skills than children without
Does having an imaginary companion relate to children’s understanding of self and others?
Imaginary companions (ICs) have been discussed in psychological literature for centuries. Over the last decade, researchers have begun investigating how having an IC relates to children’s
A Review of Imaginary Companions and Their Implications for Development
A curious childhood phenomenon that has received relatively little attention in developmental literature is the imaginary companion (IC). Increased recognition of the importance of imaginative play
Parental website-descriptions of children's imaginary companions
Past research shows that imaginary companions are a normal phenomenon in childhood and do not indicate risk for psychopathology. The aim of this study was to see if parents are nevertheless concerned
Developmental Implications of Mental Imagery in Childhood Imaginary Companions
Mental imagery in children is discussed in terms of self-concept and identity development. We examine areas in this article that contribute to these developments in children including play, fantasy


Imaginary Companions and Impersonated Characters: Sex Differences in Children's Fantasy Play
We compared the incidence of imaginary companions and impersonated characters in 152 three- and four-year-old children (75 males and 77 females). Children and their parents were interviewed about
Imaginary companions of preschool children.
Differences between invisible companions and personified objects in terms of the pretend friends' stability and ubiquity, identity, and relationship with the child were revealed.
A developmental investigation of children's imaginary companions.
Children with and without ICs did not differ in their ability to distinguish fantasy and reality, but IC children were more likely to hold an imaginary object instead of substituting a body part when performing a pretend action and were morelikely to engage in fantasy in a free-play session.
Social provisions of real and imaginary relationships in early childhood.
Preschool-aged children's perceptions of their social relationships were examined, including those with parents, best friends, siblings, and imaginary companions, suggesting that 4-year-old children have developed differentiated relationship schemas and that those of children with invisible friends may be particularly distinct.
The impact of fantasy and action on young children's understanding of pretence
Theorists examining children's understanding of the mind have been particularly interested in pretence as it may be a marker for early understanding of mental representation (Leslie, 1987). Although
Imaginary companions in adolescence: sign of a deficient or positive development.
The results showed that the imaginary companion was not the result of an egocentric orientation, and by no means was a substitute for other trustworthy partners such as family members or friends.
Young children's understanding of other people's feelings and beliefs: individual differences and their antecedents.
The results support the view that discourse about the social world may in part mediate the key conceptual advances reflected in the social cognition tasks; interaction between child and sibling and the relationships between other family members are also implicated in the growth of social understanding.
Theory of mind, emotion understanding, language, and family background: individual differences and interrelations.
The results suggest that family background has a significant impact on the development of theory of mind and that understanding of false-belief and understanding of emotion may be distinct aspects of social cognition in young children.
Theory of mind development and social understanding.
Abstract A cross-sectional, correlational study of 30 children, 3 to 5 years old, investigated relations between their theory of mind development and social interaction, controlling for age and
Prevalence of imaginary companions in a normal child population.
It was found that 829 (46.2%) children reported experiences of imaginary companions, which were unexpected as previous studies had suggested that imaginary companions are generally experienced by fewer, much younger children.