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‘When my mummy and daddy aren't looking at me when I do my maths she helps me’; Children can be taught to create imaginary companions: An exploratory study

Davis, Paige E.; King, Nigel; Meins, Elizabeth; Fernyhough, Charles

‘When my mummy and daddy aren't looking at me when I do my maths she helps me’; Children can be taught to create imaginary companions: An exploratory study Thumbnail


Authors

Paige E. Davis

Nigel King

Elizabeth Meins



Abstract

Spontaneous imaginary companion (SIC) creation in childhood is a typical imaginative play behaviour associated with advanced sociocognitive skills; however, the direction of causality has not been established. To investigate this experimentally, researchers must determine whether children can create, on request, qualitatively equivalent imaginary companions (ICs) to those created spontaneously. We examined whether children could create ICs, and how these compared to SICs. Nine elementary school children were encouraged to create ICs in a 3-month intervention. Accounts of elicited ICs were compared with an age-matched sample of interviewees with SICs. Seven children maintained ICs for 6 months post intervention. Template analysis of IC interviews found four themes: Realistic Play, Multifaceted IC Mind, Utility of the IC, and Elicited IC Across Time. Analysis suggests elicited and SICs were similar in nature and utility, although intervention ICs tended to have animal rather than human appearances. Findings support the argument that children can be encouraged to create ICs similar to SICs.

Citation

Davis, P. E., King, N., Meins, E., & Fernyhough, C. (2023). ‘When my mummy and daddy aren't looking at me when I do my maths she helps me’; Children can be taught to create imaginary companions: An exploratory study. Infant and Child Development, 32(2), Article e2390. https://doi.org/10.1002/icd.2390

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Nov 25, 2022
Online Publication Date Dec 13, 2022
Publication Date 2023-03
Deposit Date Jan 16, 2023
Publicly Available Date May 24, 2023
Journal Infant and Child Development
Print ISSN 1522-7227
Electronic ISSN 1522-7219
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 32
Issue 2
Article Number e2390
DOI https://doi.org/10.1002/icd.2390

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Publisher Licence URL
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

Copyright Statement
This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License, which permits use and distribution in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non-commercial and no modifications or adaptations are made.







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