Children's Perceptions of Fantasy and Reality

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Taylor, M. (1997). The role of creative and culture in children’s fantasy/reality

judgments. Child Development, 68(6), 1015-1017.

Many researchers have underestimated children’s ability to distinguish between fantasy and reality due to “methodological problems and overgeneralization” of children’s performance in conditions where they have little control. Therefore, the main goal of this article was to explain that children have the ability to differentiate between fantastical and real entities. Also, there are different types of fantasy/reality distinctions, and that cultural backgrounds could influence children’s fantasy/reality judgments. In terms of fantasy/reality distinctions, Taylor (1997) argued that children often recognize that their actions during pretend play, only belong to the realm of pretense—and thus, not real. However, since there are many fantasy/reality distinctions, children tend to be confused. For example, human-like fictional figures (i.e. Santa Claus) tend to confuse children because parents often provide evidence that he exists. Thus, children are able to differentiate between fantastical and real entities only when they have some control over the experience (i.e. pretend play). Then finally, culture also plays an important role in fantasy/reality distinctions. For instance, Western children view pretend play as an imaginary compassion but children form other countries (i.e. India) refer to fantastical things as real things that exist in a spiritual realm.

This particular article did not conduct any actual experiment on children’s fantasy/reality distinctions. Instead, the author reviewed several research articles that supported his arguments. Therefore, the information provided seems bia...

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...lomb, C., & Galasso, L. (1995). Make believe and reality: Explorations of the

Imaginary realm. Developmental Psychology, 31(5), 800-810.

Woolley, J.D., & Wellman, H.M. (1993). Young children’s understanding of

imaginary mental representations. Child Development, 64(4), 1-17.

Skolnick, D., & Bloom, P. (2006). What does Batman think about SpongeBob?

Children’s understanding of the fantasy/fantasy distinction. Cognition

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Amsel, E., Bobadila, W., Coch, D., & Remy, R. (1996). Young children’s memory

for the true and pretend identities of objects. Development Psychology, 32(3),


Parker, L.R., & Lepper, L.E. (1992). Effects of fantasy contexts on children’s

learning and motivation: Making learning more fun. Journal of Personality

and Social Psychology, 62(4), 625-633.
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