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

Marjorie Taylor, Stephanie M. Carlson, Bayta L. Mating, Lynn Gerow, Carolyn M. Charley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

91 Scopus citations

Abstract

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 interact with imaginary companions and impersonate imaginary characters as much as preschoolers. Overall, 65% of children up to the age of 7 had imaginary companions at some point during their lives. School-age children who did not impersonate scored lower on emotion understanding. Theory of mind at age 4 predicted emotion understanding 3 years later.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1173-1187
Number of pages15
JournalDevelopmental psychology
Volume40
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2004
Externally publishedYes

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