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

@article{Taylor2004TheCA,
  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},
  year={2004},
  volume={40 6},
  pages={
          1173-87
        }
}
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
TLDR
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
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
Memory for Imagined Relationships and the Connection between Fantasy Orientation and Social Ability
Creating imaginary companions (ICs) is a common occurrence in early childhood. However, how often ICs are remembered beyond early childhood and what factors might influence that memory is an open
An Investigation of Imaginary Companions in an Ethnic and Grade Diverse Sample
This investigation focused on the nature of imaginary companions (ICs) in 43 ethnically diverse, young school-age children (kindergarten, first, and second grade). We tested the hypotheses that our
...
...

References

SHOWING 1-10 OF 71 REFERENCES
Social provisions of real and imaginary relationships in early childhood.
TLDR
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.
TLDR
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.
TLDR
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.
TLDR
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.
Prevalence of imaginary companions in a normal child population.
TLDR
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.
Young Children's Theory of Mind and Emotion
Abstract In three experiments, children aged 3 to 7 years were tested for their understanding of the impact of beliefs and desires on emotion. Children watched while animal characters were offered
The Influence of Fantasy on Children's Understanding of Pretense
Many have thought that children have an early appreciation of the mind in the case of pretend play. Results from several experiments are against this (Joseph, in press, Exps. 2-3; Lillard, 1993a;
Theory of Mind in Preadolescence: Relations Between Social Understanding and Social Competence
Theory of mind (ToM) underlies the ability to attribute mental states to people as a way of understanding their social behaviour. Although ToM development is an active area of research, most
Understanding mind and emotion: longitudinal associations with mental-state talk between young friends.
TLDR
Although there were no gender differences in children's task performances, girls showed more frequent and more developed mental-state talk than boys and individual differences in theory of mind, emotion understanding, and mental- state talk were strikingly stable over the 13-month period.
...
...