imaginary companion

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Imaginary companions are commonly seen among young children: 65% of children before the age of seven reported having had imaginary companions at some point (Taylor, Carlson, Maring, Gerow, & Charley, 2004). The descriptions of the imaginary companions could vary greatly between children, but they remain stable over a short period of time (Taylor, 1993). Most of the imaginary companions fade away as children grow older, while a few of them persist into their adult life. Studies suggest that children tend to form friendly relationships with their imaginary companions, and they use their imaginary friends to help them to cope with boredom and loneliness (Gleason, Sebanc, & Hartup, 2000; Majors, 2013). Having imaginary companions are thought to be healthy for children’s development during childhood years. Researchers suggest that children with imaginary companions have higher verbal intelligence, higher creativity, and more advanced Theory of Mind development than peers that do not have imaginary companions (Bouldin, Bavin & Pratt, 2002; Hoff, 2005; Taylor & Carlson, 1997). However, even though there are no apparent supports for any difference in temperament between children with and children without imaginary companions, some evidences suggest that imaginary companions may be correlated with higher anxiety level during childhood and lower social-acceptance level during early adolescent years (Bouldin & Pratt, 2002; Taylor, Huelette, & Dishion, 2010). Children use imaginary companions in various ways. Majors (2013) conducted a study on the purposes of children’s imaginary companions and how they perceive them. Children can often give descriptions of their imaginary friends with vivid details, and the characteristics of the com... ... middle of paper ... ...of children’s imaginary companions. Developmental Psychology, 29, 276-285 Taylor, M., Hodges, S. D., & Kohanyi, A. (2003). The Illusion Of Independent Agency: Do Adult Fiction Writers Experience Their Characters As Having Minds Of Their Own?. Imagination, Cognition and Personality, 22(4), 361-380. Taylor, M., Carlson, S. M., Maring, B. L., Gerow, L., & Charley, C. M. (2004). The Characteristics And Correlates Of Fantasy In School-Age Children: Imaginary Companions, Impersonation, And Social Understanding.. Developmental Psychology, 40(6), 1173-1187. Taylor, M., Hulette, A. C., & Dishion, T. J. (2010). Longitudinal Outcomes Of Young High-risk Adolescents With Imaginary Companions.. Developmental Psychology, 46(6), 1632-1636. Trionfi, G., & Reese, E. (2009). A Good Story: Children With Imaginary Companions Create Richer Narratives. Child Development, 80(4), 1301-1313.

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