Autonomy and Control in Children's Interactions with Imaginary Companions

Marjorie Taylor, Stephanie M. Carlson, Alison B. Shawber

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Scopus citations


This chapter discusses children's private role play with imaginary companions and playmates which the children created and interacted with and/or talked about regularly. Although imaginary companions are at times integrated into play with other children or family members, this type of role play in general occurs within a solitary context. Imaginary companions are interesting as they provide information on social and cognitive development. For instance, relationships formed by children with their imaginary companion offer a glimpse of the child's concept of friendship and how it functions. In this chapter, explanations of why some children create imaginary companions with negative characteristics are considered. It discusses how studies of negative imaginary companions of children has the potential of providing fresh information on the distinction between automatic and controlled processes in consciousness and the relation between inhibitory play and pretend play.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationImaginative Minds
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780191734540
ISBN (Print)9780197264195
StatePublished - Jan 31 2012


  • Automatic processes
  • Children
  • Cognitive development
  • Controlled processes
  • Imaginary companions
  • Inhibitory play
  • Negative imaginary companions
  • Pretend play
  • Role play
  • Social development


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