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The Illusion of Independent Agency: Do Adult Fiction Writers Experience Their Characters as Having Minds of Their Own?

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Abstract

The illusion of independent agency (IIA) occurs when a fictional character is experienced by the person who created it as having independent thoughts, words, and/or actions. Children often report this sort of independence in their descriptions of imaginary companions. This study investigated the extent that adult writers experience IIA with the characters they create for their works of fiction. Fifty fiction writers were interviewed about the development of their characters and their memories for childhood imaginary companions. Ninety-two percent of the writers reported at least some experience of IIA. The writers who had published their work had more frequent and detailed reports of IIA, suggesting that the illusion could be related to expertise. As a group, the writers scored higher than population norms in empathy, dissociation, and memories for childhood imaginary companions.

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... A phenomenological questionnaire was devised for the study, informed by Taylor et al.'s (2003) survey of writers and Woods, Jones, Alderson-Day, Callard, and Fernyhough's (2015) survey of voice-hearers. All questions apart from 2, 3, and 4 required free-text responses (no word limit); questions 2, 3, and 4 were followed by free-text-response sub-questions if they were answered positively. ...
... Those responses which indicated the alterity of characters would appear to support the analogy drawn between characters and imaginary companions (Watkins, 1986;Taylor et al., 2003), since these writers appeared to experience their characters as entities to be interacted with, or at least as manifesting a kind of alterity that would allow for such an interaction. In other words, for these writers, characters are experienced as sufficiently separate from the self to justify the comparison of a character to an imaginary 'companion', as opposed to being simply an imagining without this kind of external-to-self dimension. ...
... In effect, since the representation of an agent is not necessarily inferred from perceptual or quasi-perceptual phenomena which we know to be usual properties of agents (e.g., a voice, a body, a human face, etc.), the sense of the other's agency is not necessarily dependent on an experience of the agent per se. 3 Indeed, the potential incorrigibility of our experiences of agents -the fact that we can still experience something as an agent even when we do not believe that it is an agent (Johnson, 2003) -not only suggests that agent detection and representation is intuitive rather than inferential (Wilkinson & Bell, 2016), but also appears particularly relevant to the 'illusion' of characters' agency. According to this model, it is conceivable that the writer's lack of conscious awareness of their own agency -such as might result from the automatic (Taylor et al., 2003) or emergent (Bernini, 2014) choices made during the writing process -could generate the illusion of characters' agency even without being accompanied by any additional phenomenological features pertaining to those characters. ...
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Writers often report vivid experiences of hearing characters talking to them, talking back to them, and exhibiting independence and autonomy. However, systematic empirical studies of this phenomenon are almost non-existent, and as a result little is known about its cause, extent, or phenomenology. Here we present the results of a survey of professional writers (n = 181) run in collaboration with the Edinburgh International Book Festival. Participants provided detailed descriptions of their experiences of their characters in response to a phenomenological questionnaire, and also reported on imaginary companions, inner speech and hallucination-proneness. Qualitative analysis indicated that the phenomenology of the experience of agentive characters varied in terms of the characters’ separateness from the writer’s self and the kinds of interaction this did or did not allow for. We argue that these variations can be understood in relation to accounts of mindreading and agency tracking which adopt intuitive as opposed to inferential models.
... For more complex content, teachers may want to move to "recognize" (Derman-Sparks & Edwards, 2010;Lin, Lake, & Rice, 2008), which will be easier for students to master. Yet, with simpler content, teachers may wish to start at "advocacy" (Djikic et al., 2013;Kaufman & Libby 2012;Taylor et al., 2003;Kuh et al., 2016). We conceptualize the READ framework below in multiple ways and believe these supports will enhance the education goals toward more anti-bias, antiracist, and inclusive environments. ...
... Additionally, ECEs themselves may not feel comfortable facilitating these conversations. Based on research by Djikic et al. (2013), Kaufman and Libby (2012), and Taylor et al. (2003), the authors suggest using children's literature as the entry point (Kuh et al., 2016). Literature is a story, whether fictional or based on true events, that children relate to and can use to launch their understanding of advocating for and embracing diversity (Djikic et al., 2013;Kaufman & Libby, 2012;Taylor et al., 2003). ...
... Based on research by Djikic et al. (2013), Kaufman and Libby (2012), and Taylor et al. (2003), the authors suggest using children's literature as the entry point (Kuh et al., 2016). Literature is a story, whether fictional or based on true events, that children relate to and can use to launch their understanding of advocating for and embracing diversity (Djikic et al., 2013;Kaufman & Libby, 2012;Taylor et al., 2003). Through books, teachers can focus on social-emotional learning and assist children in connecting their feelings to the character's feelings and experiences. ...
Chapter
In this chapter, the authors discuss how early childhood educators (ECE) can use the Recognizing, Embracing, and Advocating for Diversity (READ) framework to teach young children about diversity. Designing inclusive classrooms provides ECEs with opportunities to create an engaging and positive learning environment. This multi-layered framework, positioned by literacy practices and informed by anti-bias education and the UDL lens, promotes perspective-taking and focuses on ensuring all children have an equitable learning experience and opportunities to fully participate in all aspects of their education. By establishing the READ guidelines, the authors hope to encourage understanding of how ECEs can create classroom environments and activities that teach young children about diversity while providing them with opportunities to practice recognizing, embracing, and advocating for diversity as they grow and learn.
... Across 435 characters, the Big Five personality traits were distributed in ways similar to those of real people in the day-to-day world (McCrae, 1992;McCrae, Gaines, & Wellington, 2012). Moreover, many writers have found that the characters they create can take on the qualities of real people, even appearing to develop autonomy (Taylor, Hodges, & Kohanyi, 2003). That is, for some writers, the characters they've created can come to seem like individuals with their own thoughts and perspectives, with whom writers converse and at times even argue. ...
... That is, for some writers, the characters they've created can come to seem like individuals with their own thoughts and perspectives, with whom writers converse and at times even argue. Writers who have these sorts of experiences are more likely to be published, suggesting that characters experienced as autonomous agents are more successful in engaging readers (Taylor et al., 2003). But what predicts whether a writer is likely to create an engaging character? ...
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Characters are considered central to works of fiction and essential to our enjoyment of them. We conducted an exploratory study to examine whether the ability to sketch engaging fictional characters is influenced by a writer’s attributes. Samples of 93 creative writers and 114 nonwriters generated character descriptions based on a portrait photograph. We measured participants’ experiences with reading and writing in various genres, their trait personality, their self-reported perspective-taking tendencies, and cognitive accessibility of social information. Next, 144 raters read these sketches and assessed the characters for interest, likability, and complexity. Characters produced by creative writers were rated as more interesting and complex, though not more likable, than were those produced by nonwriters. Participants who wrote more fiction and poetry and read more poetry, and those who scored high on Openness to Experience, sketched characters that were more interesting and complex. Moreover, Openness mediated the relationships between fiction-writing and poetry-reading and how Interesting characters were. Participants with higher levels of perspective-taking produced characters that were more complex, however, those for whom social information was cognitively more accessible tended to create characters who were less likable. These findings suggest that there is a measurable influence of individual differences on the ability to develop compelling fictional characters during creative writing.
... More recently, Brian Boyd (2009) has argued that play is the origin of stories. A piece of empirical evidence that bears on the question is the finding that professional writers of fiction are more likely than members of the ordinary population to have had imaginary playmates when they were children (Taylor, Hodges, andKohányi, 2002-2003). One might be reminded of the Brontë children-Charlotte, Branwell, Emily, and Anne-who developed and played in the imagined romantic worlds of Angria and Gondal (e.g. ...
... More recently, Brian Boyd (2009) has argued that play is the origin of stories. A piece of empirical evidence that bears on the question is the finding that professional writers of fiction are more likely than members of the ordinary population to have had imaginary playmates when they were children (Taylor, Hodges, andKohányi, 2002-2003). One might be reminded of the Brontë children-Charlotte, Branwell, Emily, and Anne-who developed and played in the imagined romantic worlds of Angria and Gondal (e.g. ...
Chapter
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Some philosophers have questioned the value of fiction and argued that the emotions it prompts are inappropriate because they are not about real people. Recent evidence indicates that engaging with fiction can enable important psychological effects. Fiction is about inner truth, truth of other minds and of one's own. The chapter proposes four bases for a psychology of fiction. (1) Fiction is not principally description but simulation of social worlds. (2) Fiction is an abstraction that develops from the imaginative activities of childhood play. (3) Empirically it has been found that reading fiction enables people to acquire better empathy and understandings of other minds. (4) Artistic fiction is a kind of indirect communication that enables people to change their selfhood by small amounts not by persuasion but in their own ways. These changes are mediated by the emotions readers experience as they put aside their own concerns and take on those of literary characters.
... For example, fantasy-oriented children are more likely to prefer pretense, media, and toys that involve a fantasy element, such as preferring to engage in fantastical pretense (e.g., pretending to space travel in a cardboard box) rather than play kickball or tag (Taylor & Carlson, 1997). Researchers have documented that adults with creative careers, such as fiction writers, were more likely to have been fantasyoriented children (Taylor, Hodges, & Kohányi, 2002). One might wonder whether these children simply have a tenuous ability to distinguish fantasy from reality. ...
... Results from the present study extend these findings of a relationship between emotion regulation and transient, state-like pretense behaviors to the relationship between emotion regulation and the stable, trait-like fantasy orientation construct. Fantasy orientation is a natural proclivity toward highly imaginative cognitions and play, is measured as a part of personality, and seems to be relatively stable throughout the lifespan (McCrae, 1993;Taylor et al., 2002). Fantasy-oriented children commonly engage in higher levels of sociodramatic play, often with a highly imaginative theme, and have been shown to have improved perspective taking, theory of mind, and language skills relative to their peers (Lillard et al., 2013;D. ...
Article
Research Findings: Emotion regulation is a strong predictor of both short- and long-term peer relationships and social competence and is often targeted in preschool curricula and interventions. Pretense is a natural activity of childhood that is thought to facilitate the development of socialization, perspective taking, language, and possibly emotion regulation. This study investigated whether fantasy-oriented children, who engage in more pretense, demonstrate higher levels of emotion regulation. Prekindergartners (n = 103) and teachers were given a battery of measures assessing children’s emotion regulation, fantasy orientation, theory of mind, and language. Results from hierarchical regression analyses indicated that children’s proclivity toward fantastical play (their fantasy orientation) uniquely predicted 24% of the variance in their emotion regulation skills over and above typical predictors: age, theory of mind, and language skills. That is, children who participated in more fantasy pretense demonstrated better emotion regulation skills than their peers. Practice or Policy: The present study suggests that future research, curriculum, and interventions should focus on targeting fantastical pretense to assess causal mechanisms of emotion regulation development. Teachers and parents should encourage children’s fantastical pretense, as research suggests it may be an important contributor to the development of critical socialization skills such as emotion regulation.
... Although their scripts are self-generated, they don't always feel they are. A similar experience of reduced sense of agency for one's creation has been reported by novelists, many of whom feel like passive reporters of narratives that appear "independently", without conscious editing (Bowers, 1979;Taylor, Hodges, & Kohányi, 2003). Not coincidentally, writers appear to be especially high on DA (Taylor et al., 2003). ...
... A similar experience of reduced sense of agency for one's creation has been reported by novelists, many of whom feel like passive reporters of narratives that appear "independently", without conscious editing (Bowers, 1979;Taylor, Hodges, & Kohányi, 2003). Not coincidentally, writers appear to be especially high on DA (Taylor et al., 2003). This creative source of inspiration is a milder, more adaptive version of the ability to mentally create alternative identities experienced as distinct from one's self, as observed in DID. ...
Chapter
Maladaptive daydreaming (MD) is a distinct clinical condition entailing an extensive addictive-compulsive immersion in vivid fantasy featuring complex scenarios, which causes distress or interference with daily functioning. It is often activated while listening to evocative music and accompanied by stereotypical movements. MD is strongly related to dissociation and seems to rely on an innate tendency for absorptive and imaginative fantasy. Through its rewarding properties, this form of immersive daydreaming becomes abnormal. MD may thus be viewed as a disordered form of dissociative absorption. We discuss and exemplify with clinical vignettes the shared phenomenological characteristics between MD and dissociative phenomena, such as double consciousness, vivid visual imagery, and the creation of internally narrated characters. MD characters can be experienced as somewhat independently-agentic, although unlike dissociative identity disorder (DID), they typically do not take control over the daydreamer’s behavior. We maintain that high absorption is a risk factor for developing dissociative disorders, specifically, Depersonalization-Derealization disorder, DID, and MD. In an etiological model, we delineate these relationships and the potential trajectories to MD. Although trauma may be one causal factor, we indicate several other etiological pathways to the development of MD. We discuss associations with related concepts and suggest directions for future research.
... Imaginative ability is thought to be linked to the various aspects of empathy, for instance, fiction writers score above the norm on all four components of Davis' (1980) measure of empathy (Taylor, Hodges, & Kohanyi, 2003). As such, due to the imagination involved in daydreaming, and because individuals with MD typically report their daydreaming content to be highly social and emotional , we would expect that those who engage in highly immersive forms of daydreaming may have a heightened capacity for empathy. ...
... However, our findings show no associations between daydreaming and empathic concern for others or perspective taking ability. Although our findings are, generally, in line with research suggesting that greater absorption in fantasy is related to a heightened ability to imagine the experiences of others and empathize more strongly with them (Taylor et al., 2003(Taylor et al., , 2004Wickramasekera & Szlyk, 2003), it seems that enhanced empathic ability is associated with immersive daydreaming only if it pertains to a fictional context. It is possible that the understanding of another's mind and emotions in real life requires distinct skills from such understanding in fantasy. ...
Article
Daydreaming is important for creativity and the understanding of our minds and those of others. However, some adults daydream to such an extreme degree that the behavior becomes disruptive; a condition known as maladaptive daydreaming (MD). We propose that highly immersive daydreaming is not always maladaptive, and immersive characteristics of daydreaming may benefit emotional regulation, empathy, and creativity. This study consisted of 542 participants from 56 countries recruited online from MD and other communities. Our results revealed that the maladaptive components of MD predicted higher affective empathy, poorer emotional regulation abilities, and reduced creative output. The immersive components of daydreaming predicted higher empathy for fantasy characters and poorer emotional regulation. These results suggest that the immersive and maladaptive components of MD have distinct behavioral correlates, but that any form of immersive daydreaming is not an effective emotional regulation strategy. Implications for the planning of effective treatment for MD are discussed.
... All of these become part of the readers' construction of a fictional consciousness or a ''consciousness frame" (Palmer, 2004): a kind of schema for the characters' worldview and inner experience. This extensive degree of personification that readers process and project into the text can be seen as the counterpart of personifying processes occurring in the writers' encoding of fictional minds (Taylor, Hodges, & Kohányi, 2003). ...
Article
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Readers often describe vivid experiences of voices and characters in a manner that has been likened to hallucination. Little is known, however, of how common such experiences are, nor the individual differences they may reflect. Here we present the results of a 2014 survey conducted in collaboration with a national UK newspaper and an international book festival. Participants (n=1566) completed measures of reading imagery, inner speech, and hallucination-proneness, including 413 participants who provided detailed free-text descriptions of their reading experiences. Hierarchical regression analysis indicated that reading imagery was related to phenomenological characteristics of inner speech and proneness to hallucination-like experiences. However, qualitative analysis of reader's accounts suggested that vivid reading experiences were marked not just by auditory phenomenology, but also their tendency to cross over into non-reading contexts. This supports social-cognitive accounts of reading while highlighting a role for involuntary and uncontrolled personality models in the experience of fictional characters.
... Adult Imaginary Companion Questionnaire (Taylor, Hodges, & Kohanyi, 2002) Participants were asked whether they had imaginary companions currently or in childhood and to provide descriptions. Seventy-one participants (27%) reported imaginary companions. ...
Article
In two studies, we investigated the correlates of anthropomorphism, the attribution of unobservable mental states to inanimate entities and non‐human animals. In Study 1, we investigated the relations between anthropomorphism, social understanding, empathy, prosocial attitudes, and history of childhood imaginary companions in a college sample (N = 264; Mage = 19 years, 2 months). In Study 2, we explored the relations between two different measures of anthropomorphism, theory of mind, imaginary companions, and social preferences in 73 children (Mage = 5 years, 5 months). Anthropomorphism was not strongly correlated with social understanding in adults or with theory of mind in children. There was, however, some evidence for links between anthropomorphism and reports of having imaginary companions and social preferences. Moreover, the two measures of anthropomorphism were not correlated with each other and yielded different patterns of results in Study 2, a finding that is discussed in relation to different forms of anthropomorphism. Statement of contribution What is already known on this subject? • There are individual differences in anthropomorphism in both adults and children. • There are two different methods to assess anthropomorphism: self‐reports and narration of movies of geometric shapes. • The two different methods that are used to assess anthropomorphism yield different developmental patterns. What does this study add? • Individual differences in social understanding or theory of mind are not associated with individual differences in anthropomorphism. • Having a childhood imaginary companion is linked with a tendency to anthropomorphize in both children and adults. • Two measures of anthropomorphism are not correlated in children, consistent with the view that there are different forms of anthropomorphism.
... In a longitudinal study, one-year-old toddlers showing tendency toward fantasy-based toys were more likely to engage in IC play at the age of four than those preferring reality-based toys (Acredolo et al., 1995). Furthermore, adult fiction writers tend to report more memories of childhood ICs than population norms (Taylor et al., 2003). ...
Article
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Objective: This study evaluated the association of Childhood Imaginary Companion (CIC) status and schizotypy levels of adolescents and adults within the framework of the Hierarchical Taxonomy of Psychopathology (HiTOP). Method: The sample included 255 Iranian adolescents and adults, grouped according to their CIC status, who responded mostly via e-questionnaires on a website. Schizotypy dimensions were compared between these two groups. Two measures compatible with the HiTOP model were also evaluated both in relation to the short scale of the Oxford-Liverpool Inventory of Feelings and Experiences (sO-LIFE) schizotypy dimensions and the CIC status of participants; one scale used exclusively with adolescents (i.e., the Achenbach System of Empirically-Based Assessment-Youth Self-Report [ASEBA-YSR]), and another with adults (i.e., the NEO-Five Factor Inventory [NEO-FFI]). Results: Scores on the unusual experiences (UnEx) the impulsive nonconformity (ImpNon) dimensions, and the total score of the sO-LIFE were higher for the CIC group. For adolescents, the UnEx dimension and the Thought Problems subscale of the ASEBA-YSR correlated. Scores on three subscales of the ASEBA-YSR (i.e., Thought Problems, Obsessive-Compulsive Problems, and PTSD Problems) were significantly higher for the CIC group. For adults, the neuroticism domain of the NEO-FFI correlated strongly with total score of the sO-LIFE and the cognitive disorganization (CogDis) dimension. This domain of the NEO-FFI was the only one in which CIC adults scored higher than the NIC group. Conclusion: CIC in adolescents and adults is associated with a set of schizotypy dimensions in line with the concept of the “happy schizotype.”
... at in turn implies that early experiences are related to later capacities. ere are research ndings that support this idea that childhood imagination is associated with, or even predictive of, adult creative performance and accomplishment (Goldstein & Winner, 2009;Root-Bernstein & Root-Bernstein, 2006;Taylor, Hodges & Kohanyi, 2003;Walton, 1990;Woolley, 1997). Consider in this regard the interviews conducted by Goldstein and Winner. ...
Chapter
Creativity and imagination are defined and distinguished from one another. Various models are described and research supporting them is summarized. Divergent thinking, stage models, and the role of both controlled and undirected processes are tied to creativity and imagination. Extra- and meta-cognitive (e.g., tactical, strategic) contributions to creative and imaginative thinking are recognized and implications for businesses, organizations, and the understanding of development and the fulfillment of potential are each briefly explored.
... Indeed, multiple studies have shown that creativity in young children is related to the amount of time they spend engaged in play: Positive correlations have been shown between creativity and functional play (Lloyd & Howe, 2003), construction play (Pellegrini & Gustafson, 2005), pretend play (Moran, Sawyers, Fu, & Milgram, 1984), and fantastical play (Wyver & Spence, 1999). Other retrospective studies have shown that highly creative adults were more likely to have engaged in fantasy play as children: MacArthur Fellows were twice as likely than a control group to have created their own imaginary worlds to play in as children (Root-Bernstein & Root-Bernstein, 2006), and fiction writers were about twice as likely to report having had an imaginary friend as a child (Taylor, Hodges, & Kohányi, 2002). ...
... Rather, in these instances children are engaged in the fantasy, and thus answer appropriately. This type of magical thinking has also been found in adult fiction writers, who frequently report experiencing the "illusion of independent agency," an illusion in which authors do not feel in control of their own characters (Taylor, Hodges, & Kohanyi, 2003). ...
Article
Little research has explored valence and autonomy in children's imaginary relationships. In the present study, a new interview (modeled after an existing measure for real relationships) was designed to elicit descriptions of both positive and negative interactions with imaginary companions and to provide a measure of relationship valence and autonomy. Children (n = 107) aged 3 to 8 were interviewed about their relationships with real or imaginary friends. Results indicated that (1) the valence of imaginary relationships falls along a continuum, (2) children sometimes view their imaginary companions as autonomous and in control of the imaginary relationship (especially when this relationship is not positively valenced), and (3) young children and those in less positive relationships (real or imaginary) were more likely to report that they could make their friend be nice to them.
... In the domain of literature, there is much less research on creation (i.e., writing) compared to consumption (i.e., reading), and the results are mixed (see Supplemental Material D). For example, when comparing writers with a general population, two studies find that writers have higher emotional sensitivity/empathy (Drevdahl & Cattell, 1958;Taylor, Hodges, & Kohányi, 2003), yet one study finds no differences between the two groups (Bischoff & Peskin, 2014). Another study finds that people who wrote more complex fictional descriptions of characters score higher on empathy (Maslej, Oatley, & Mar, 2017). ...
... It is possible that such practices could "unlock" ICs for adults who did not otherwise have a childhood proneness or tendency to have IC experiences. The experience of shaping and engaging with ICs has also been linked to the creative imaginative act of molding fictional characters into existence, where literary writers displace agency into externalized imaginary beings (Taylor et al., 2003;Bernini, 2014). The creation of fictional characters and the generation of imaginary friends arguably share a feeling of distributed agency paired with knowledge of the subjective source of these creative acts. ...
Article
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Interacting with imaginary companions (ICs) is now considered a natural part of childhood for many children, and has been associated with a range of positive developmental outcomes. Recent research has explored how the phenomenon of ICs in childhood and adulthood relates to the more unusual experience of hearing voices (or auditory verbal hallucinations, AVH). Specifically, parallels have been drawn between the varied phenomenology of the two kinds of experience, including the issues of quasi-perceptual vividness and autonomy/control. One line of research has explored how ICs might arise through the internalization of linguistically mediated social exchanges to form dialogic inner speech. We present data from two studies on the relation between ICs in childhood and adulthood and the experience of inner speech. In the first, a large community sample of adults (N = 1,472) completed online the new Varieties of Inner Speech – Revised (VISQ-R) questionnaire (Alderson-Day et al., 2018) on the phenomenology of inner speech, in addition to providing data on ICs and AVH. The results showed differences in inner speech phenomenology in individuals with a history of ICs, with higher scores on the Dialogic, Evaluative, and Other Voices subscales of the VISQ-R. In the second study, a smaller community sample of adults (N = 48) completed an auditory signal detection task as well as providing data on ICs and AVH. In addition to scoring higher on AVH proneness, individuals with a history of ICs showed reduced sensitivity to detecting speech in white noise as well as a bias toward detecting it. The latter finding mirrored a pattern previously found in both clinical and nonclinical individuals with AVH. These findings are consistent with the view that ICs represent a hallucination-like experience in childhood and adulthood which shows meaningful developmental relations with the experience of inner speech.
... However, there are certainly non-disturbed adults with imaginary companions; in one study of 264 college students, nine reported having such a companion (Tahiroglu, 2012: 37-8). At the lower end of the range of intensity, many adult writers of fiction report that they experience their characters having some independent agency (Taylor, Hodges and Kohanyi, 2002). Adolescents with imaginary companions tend to envisage an idealized person resembling themselves -except that both boys and girls are more likely to imagine a girl as a companion. ...
Article
In early modern Scotland, several visionaries experienced vivid relationships with spirits. This paper analyses their experiences historically, with the aid of modern scholarship in medicine, psychology and social science. Most of the visionaries were women. Most of their spirit-guides were fairies or ghosts. There could be traumas in forming or maintaining the relationship, and visionaries often experienced spirit-guides as powerful, capricious and demanding. It is argued that some visionaries experienced psychotic conditions, including psychosomatic injuries, sleepwalking, mutism and catatonia. Further conditions related to visionary experience were not necessarily pathological, notably fantasy-proneness and hallucinations. Imaginary companions and parasocial relationships are discussed, as are normality, abnormality and coping strategies. There are concluding reflections on links between culture and biology.
... It was as if the significant others' perspectives were being automatically consulted and integrated into the participants' judgements. Similarly, Taylor et al. (2003) found that fiction writers-who spend a lot of time imagining their fictional characters' point of view -often experienced a strange phenomenon whereby their characters seemed to come to life, providing dialogue and action for the story without any perceived effort on the part of the author. ...
Article
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Introduction Is it good to be empathic? Even taking into account the wide spectrum of definitions associated with the term ‘empathy’, people are generally in favour of the concept. Psychological research and anecdotal evidence suggest that empathy is widely valued. Hogan's (1969) individual difference measure of empathy has items which suggest that high scorers are all-around good citizens in addition to being empathic (e.g. ‘I usually take an active part in the entertainment at parties’ and ‘Most of the arguments or quarrels I get into are over matters of principle’). When Norman (1967) rank-ordered traits in terms of social desirability, empathy was rated on average at 6.7 on a 9-point scale, where 9 was the highest desirability. Many of the chapters in this book (e.g. chapters 2, 8) point to deficits in empathy or the absence of empathy as being prominent features of serious psychological disorders and mental disabilities. Indeed, respect for empathy is so great that many criminals, particularly sex offenders (e.g. Pithers, 1994), have been enrolled in ‘empathy training’ programmes (albeit some based on inconclusive research findings) as a part of rehabilitation. It appears that the ability to respond empathically is highly sought after. However, there can be too much of a good thing, and although it has been said that one can never be too rich or too thin, there do appear to be costs to being too empathic, as well as costs associated with the more common other extreme (not being empathic enough). © Cambridge University Press 2007 and Cambridge University Press, 2009.
... Researchers have theorized about the possibility of automatic (or at least more automatic) conceptual perspective taking occurring (Hodges/Wegner 1997; see also Baldwin/Holmes 1987;Taylor et al. 2003). Just as other complex but frequently executed behaviors (such as driving a car or playing a musical piece) can become automatic (Logan 1988;Shiffrin/Schneider 1984), it seems theoretically possible that people who often consider a particular person's perspective over time (e.g., a family member or close friend) may find themselves automatically incorporating that other person's perspective (e.g., sizing up a menu based on a romantic partner's food preferences; turning down a social invitation without being consciously aware of summoning one's child's perspective on the event). ...
... This similarity has a psychological effect on the reader or the author, putting them under the illusion that fictional characters are real. Taylor et al. (2003) reported that almost all authors (92%, n= 50) were under the illusion of independent agency. The authors believed that fictional characters determined the creation process and, after a certain point, got out of hand and leaked into the real world. ...
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p style="text-align: justify;">Fictional characters give literary works a sense of reality. The actions of fictional characters play a crucial role in children's personality development. Young readers who lack critical reading skills are more likely to incorporate fictional characters into their lives because they have a hard time telling reality from fiction. Therefore, we should determine how children perceive fictional characters and teach them that they are imaginary figures. In this way, we can help them approach those characters' actions from an external and critical perspective. This study adopted a qualitative research design (case study) to investigate secondary school students' perceptions of fictional characters. The sample consisted of 45 secondary school students (28 female and 17 male). Data were collected through interviews and document review techniques. Data were analyzed using content analysis. Results showed that participants were more likely to be interested in and identify with characters with appealing personality traits. They had four types of approaches to fictional characters: (1) Wanting to change the storyline depending on what the fictional character goes through, (2) being influenced by them, (3) seeing them as role models, or (4) ignoring them. They wanted to change the storyline, especially when the villain got what he wanted or when the hero or the victim was unhappy, suggesting that they mostly took the protagonist's side (the good guy). While most participants attributed an ontological meaning to anthropomorphic characters, the symbolic meaning became of secondary importance. They were more interested in and identified more with characters with good living conditions and no death experiences.</p
Article
As part of the contemporary reassessment of trauma that goes beyond Freudian psychoanalysis, Laurie Vickroy theorizes trauma in the context of psychological, literary, and cultural criticism. Focusing on novels by Margaret Atwood, William Faulkner, Toni Morrison, Jeanette Winterson, and Chuck Palahniuk, she shows how these writers try to enlarge our understanding of the relationship between individual traumas and the social forces of injustice, oppression, and objectification. Further, she argues, their work provides striking examples of how the devastating effects of trauma—whether sexual, socioeconomic, or racial—on individual personality can be depicted in narrative.Vickroy offers a unique blend of interpretive frameworks. She draws on theories of trauma and narrative to analyze the ways in which her selected texts engage readers both cognitively and ethically—immersing them in, and yet providing perspective on, the flawed thinking and behavior of the traumatized and revealing how the psychology of fear can be a driving force for individuals as well as for society. Through this engagement, these writers enable readers to understand their own roles in systems of power and how they internalize the ideologies of those systems. © 2015 by the Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia. All rights reserved.
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The ability to think in abstractions depends on the imagination. An important evolutionary change was the installation of a suite of six imaginative activities that emerge at first in childhood, which include empathy, symbolic play, and theory-of-mind. These abilities can be built upon in adulthood to enable the production of oral and written stories. As a technology, writing has three aspects: material, skill based, and societal. It is in fiction that expertise in writing is most strikingly attained; imagination is put to use to create simulations of the social world that can usefully be offered to others. Fiction is best conceived as an externalization of consciousness, which not only enables us to understand others but also to transform ourselves so that we can reach beyond the immediate.
Chapter
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.
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Imagining alternatives to actual experiences is an important part of everyday life that can take many forms. One manifestation in middle childhood is the creation of elaborate imaginary worlds, called paracosms. Retrospective reports of adults indicate that having a childhood paracosm is more commonly reported in individuals acknowledged for being highly creative. In this study, we interviewed four children aged 10 to 12 years with interconnected paracosms about the details of their imagined worlds. Our findings indicated that paracosms served as a platform for social activity with friends, a way to explore real world interests (e.g., geography, language), and a vehicle for engaging in creative pursuits (e.g., drawing, storytelling).
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This article investigates the plausibility of using studies of imaginative play to illuminate and explain the contemporary prevalence and popularity of religious imaginal dialogue. Emphasis is given to conceptual considerations arising from the application of recent findings in the neuroscience of social cognition and cognitive theories of childhood development to the study of religion.
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This study explored unique constructs of fantasy orientation and whether there are developmental benefits for fantasy-oriented children. By age 3, children begin developing executive functions, with some children exhibiting high fantasy orientation in their cognitions and behaviors. Preschoolers (n = 106) completed fantasy orientation measures and executive function tasks, including parent and teacher questionnaires. Principal Component Analysis revealed four specific constructs within fantasy orientation (FO). Relations were examined between children's FO constructs and executive functions to determine if developmental benefits exist with being fantasy-oriented. Hierarchical linear regressions suggested that certain FO constructs are uniquely related to specific executive functions, such that there are potentially specific developmental benefits to being a fantasy-oriented child (i.e., inhibition and attention shift positively related to fantastical cognitions).
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In investigating the relationship between fiction writing and perspective taking, beliefs about the ability of fiction writers to correctly infer the mental states of others were assessed via survey, in comparison to other professions. Next, two groups of fiction writers (established and intermediate) and a control group were compared across different measures of perspective taking. Possible moderating variables such as age, verbal intelligence, depressive symptoms, and fiction reading were measured. Participants provided writing samples, which were scored for quality. Analyses revealed that the general public believes fiction writers demonstrate above-average perspective-taking ability; however, empirical tests revealed no significant between-group differences on the outcome measures, nor any relationship between fiction writing quality and any outcome measures. The results of the suggest that fiction writers are no better than similar individuals who do not write fiction in terms of their ability to infer others’ mental states or take their perspectives.
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Widely known as the crime fiction writer whose work led to the movies Get Shorty and Out of Sight, Elmore Leonard had a special knack for creating "cool" characters. In Being Cool, Charles J. Rzepka looks at what makes the dope-dealers, bookies, grifters, financial advisors, talent agents, shady attorneys, hookers, models, and crooked cops of Leonard's world cool. They may be nefarious, but they are also confident, skilled, and composed and cope without effort or thought. And they are good at what they do. Taking being cool as the highway through Leonard's life and works, Rzepka finds plenty of byways to explore along the way. © 2013 The Johns Hopkins University Press. All rights reserved.
Chapter
Contemporary fiction by Jane Smiley and Margaret Atwood represents trauma within social contexts in order to emphasize the narrative and expressive aspects of severe circumstances. Although silence may accompany descriptions of the survivor’s experience, fiction provides multiple perspectives that allow readers to meditate on the variety of human responses to shock. The various traumatic responses beyond the notion of the unspeakable cultivate the subtleties of experience, which are expressed through behaviors, bodies, provisional identities, and survival strategies. This chapter offers a multidisciplinary interpretive framework that appreciates the complex nature of these depictions by shifting beyond the traditionalist Freudian perspective that focuses primarily on childhood traumas, repression, and repetition. My analysis will focus instead on the social, situational, and narrative aspects of trauma to argue that fiction by Jane Smiley and Margaret Atwood depicts the many avenues for expressing the voices of trauma through the survivor’s narrative.
In 1933, literary critic L. C. Knights published a caustic essay against the notion cultivated by certain of his colleagues, predominantly A. C. Bradley, that Shakespeare is a ?great creator of characters?. Knights (1973) regarded the examination of isolated particles such as ?character? as disorientating, alleging that an analysis of this sort obscures the greater merit of language. Knight?s polemic essentially stands in the threshold of the dissention between formalists and realists: the former consider the examination of the fictional narrative as anything but a textual construct a scholarly faux pas; the latter regard the referential relationship between text and the world as a foundation for the creation of fiction. This is a pseudo-dilemma. The notion that literature is denuded of its artistic merit once it is defined by its constituent artefacts is disorienting, for it completely bypasses the dynamics of its creation. Put differently, a post-event analysis can exist as a standalone act, albeit it cannot challenge or dismiss the foundational principles of the event?s creation process.
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During World War II and the early Cold War period, factors such as race, gender, sexual orientation, or class made a number of American writers feel marginalized in U.S. society. Cosmopolitan Minds focuses on a core of transnational writers—Kay Boyle, Pearl S. Buck, William Gardner Smith, Richard Wright, and Paul Bowles—who found themselves prompted to seek experiences outside of their home country, experiences that profoundly changed their self-understanding and creative imagination as they encountered alternative points of views and cultural practices in Europe, Asia, and Africa. Alexa Weik von Mossner offers a new perspective on the affective underpinnings of critical and reflexive cosmopolitanism by drawing on theories of emotion and literary imagination from cognitive psychology, philosophy, and cognitive literary studies. She analyzes how physical dislocation, and the sometimes violent shifts in understanding that result from our affective encounters with others, led Boyle, Buck, Smith, Wright, and Bowles to develop new, cosmopolitan solidarities across national, ethnic, and religious boundaries. She also shows how, in their literary texts, these writers employed strategic empathy to provoke strong emotions such as love, sympathy, compassion, fear, anger, guilt, shame, and disgust in their readers in order to challenge their parochial worldviews and practices. Reading these texts as emotionally powerful indictments of institutionalized racism and national violence inside and outside of the United States, Weik von Mossner demonstrates that our emotional engagements with others—real and imagined—are crucially important for the development of transnational and cosmopolitan imaginations. See more at: http://www.alexaweikvonmossner.com/publications/cosmopolitan-minds/
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Fantasy proneness has recently been related to creative thinking. To try and explain this link, we examined whether the relation was mediated by Openness to Experience (openness) because fantasy proneness and openness involve an imaginative thinking style. Study 1 assessed fantasy proneness (Creative Experiences Questionnaire), openness, and creative (divergent) thinking in 87 undergraduates (77% women, mean age 21 years). Study 2 replicated the method with museum visitors of similar age (58% women, mean age 23 years). Our hypotheses received partial support: although fantasy proneness did not directly predict creativity in either study, bivariate correlations in both studies revealed that fantasy proneness positively predicted openness, and openness positively predicted creativity. In addition, openness mediated the relation between fantasy proneness and creativity, but only in Study 2. These findings reveal potentially useful relations between fantasy proneness, openness, and creativity, and show that findings from student populations are not necessarily generalizable.
Chapter
Once upon a time, I was a little girl who loved stories better than human beings. I open my tale with those sacred words—“once upon a time”—because they are a key to childhood stories, and to mine more than most. You see, I know that stories made me human. It was by devouring words written by and about people, listening to, reading, and finally writing them, that I learned to understand those I shared the world with, and to connect with them instead of watching from a remove.
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This article considers digital storytelling as an emerging media practice for public education and action about environmental justice. Digital storytelling presents examples of how media texts can go viral and have a substantial impact on public discourse, while also providing multimodal communication to study and experience for social action. Using frameworks of both narrative empathy and the rhetoric of empathy, while drawing on a viral Greenpeace media text produced in 2014 by the Don’t Panic agency entitled LEGO: Everything is NOT Awesome, this article considers how the empathetic effects of digital storytelling mobilises environmental action across multimodal networks of digital media.
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Anthropomorphism is the tendency to treat non-human items as if they were human. Children 3–5 years (N = 139) were tested on their anthropomorphism of two favorite toys from home, with both explicit judgments (e.g., think, feel happy) and behavioral interactions (e.g., resource distributions). Parents reported on their child’s object attachments and anthropomorphizing behaviors at home. Children anthropomorphized objects with faces more than those without. Parents also reported that children attached to a toy with a face engaged in more anthropomorphism in their behaviors at home than those without. On the lab-based task battery, attachment status did not predict overall levels of anthropomorphism, although differences did emerge in the predicted direction on a small number of tasks, for both face and no-face attachment objects. The results of this exploratory study are discussed with regard to the diverse nature of anthropomorphism in childhood, and the role of context in eliciting this perspective.
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Engaging in pretend, imaginative, and fantastical thinking and behavior is a characteristic, but not an essential, component of typical psychological development. Indeed, there is wide variability in both how much individuals use these abilities and how interested they are in engaging them. The capacity to pretend and imagine emerges early in development and becomes more sophisticated with age. This chapter highlights aspects of childhood pretense, imagination, and fantasy, including (but not limited to) object substitution, role play, sociodramatic play, and the creation of imaginary companions and paracosms, as well as a number of correlated skills. The question of whether post-childhood activities like generating fiction and fan art, cosplay, playing role play games or acting rely on the same cognitive and social mechanisms as childhood imaginary and fantastical play is considered. Pretense, imagination, and fantastical thought and behavior can promote positive well-being, but the degree to which it does may be dependent on individual temperament and interest.
Article
A curious childhood phenomenon that has received relatively little attention in developmental literature is the imaginary companion (IC). Increased recognition of the importance of imaginative play and a desire to stimulate children’s early cognitive development makes ICs a particularly relevant topic. The significant prevalence of ICs in the population has permitted a modest yet diverse range of research investigating the functions, correlates, and implications of ICs for the children that create them. This literature review summarizes some of this research in order to describe the functions and forms that ICs may take, as well as social and personality characteristics of children with ICs. It also examines the role that ICs may serve in cognitive and social development, particularly with respect to children’s acquisition of Theory of Mind. Finally, this article addresses ways to integrate ICs into other aspects of children’s lives, gaps in the existing literature, and potential directions for future research in the field.
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It is well known that people who read fiction have many reasons for doing so. But perhaps one of the most understudied reasons people have for reading fiction is their belief that reading will result in their acquisition of certain forms of knowledge or skill. Such expectations have long been fostered by literary theorists, critics, authors, and readers who have asserted that reading may indeed be among the best ways to learn particular forms of knowledge. Modern psychological research has borne out many of these claims. For example, readers of fiction learn cognitive skills such as mentalizing or theory of mind. Reading fiction is also associated with greater empathic skills, especially among avid or lifelong readers. For readers who are emotionally transported into the fictional world they are reading about, powerful emotional truths are often discovered that may subsequently help readers build, or change, their identities. Fiction readers acquire factual information about places or people they may not have any other access to. But reading fiction also presents opportunities to acquire inaccurate factual information that may diminish access to previously learned accurate information. If readers are provided with inaccurate information that is encoded, they have opportunities to make faulty inferences, whose invalidity the reader is often incapable of detecting. Readers of fiction use schematic world knowledge to navigate fictional texts. But if the border between fiction and reality becomes blurred, as might be the case of avid readers of fiction, there is a risk that they may export schematic knowledge from the world of fiction to the everyday world, where it may not be applicable. These and other findings suggest that the varieties of learning from fiction form a complex, nuanced pattern deserving of greater attention by researchers.
Book
The human imagination manifests in countless different forms. We imagine the possible and the impossible. How do we do this so effortlessly? Why did the capacity for imagination evolve and manifest with undeniably manifold complexity uniquely in human beings? This handbook reflects on such questions by collecting perspectives on imagination from leading experts. It showcases a rich and detailed analysis on how the imagination is understood across several disciplines of study, including anthropology, archaeology, medicine, neuroscience, psychology, philosophy, and the arts. An integrated theoretical-empirical-applied picture of the field is presented, which stands to inform researchers, students, and practitioners about the issues of relevance across the board when considering the imagination. With each chapter, the nature of human imagination is examined – what it entails, how it evolved, and why it singularly defines us as a species.
Chapter
Literary empathy studies draws on research and theorizing in three distinct areas of psychology (cognitive, developmental, and social psychology), on philosophical work in ethics (moral philosophy), and on recent developments in neuroscience. This chapter discusses the debates and challenges of the interdisciplinary research context for literary theories of narrative empathy, including readers’ empathy, authors’ strategic empathizing, and the relationship of empathy for textual creations to prosocial action in the real world.
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Dissociative absorption (DA) is a tendency to become completely immersed in a stimulus while neglecting to attend to one’s surroundings. Theoretically, DA implies automatic functioning in areas that are outside the focus of attention. This study examined whether high absorbers indeed act more automatically, i.e., with decreased meta-consciousness for, and therefore poor memory of, their own actions, along with reduced sense of agency (SoA). High and low absorbers (N=63) performed three DA-promoting tasks: choice-reaction time (CRT), Tetris, and free writing. Participants were tested on memory of task details and self-reported their state SoA. As hypothesized, trait DA was correlated with impaired autobiographical memory for self-generated writing. However, DA was not related to episodic memory disruptions in externally-generated content tasks (Tetris, CRT). In most tasks, DA was associated with decreased SoA. Absorbers’ specific difficulty in identifying self-generated content suggests that their memory failures stem from reduced accessibility to self-actions and intentions.
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Cognitive ecocriticism draws on research in neuroscience and cognitive narratology to explore how literary reading can lead us to care about natural environments. Ann Pancake’s novel Strange as This Weather Has Been (2007) serves as an example of a novel that cues both direct and empathetic emotions for an actual environment—the Appalachian Mountains—that is wounded and scarred. I argue that the novel’s protagonists allow readers to imaginatively experience what it is like to love an environment and then witness its destruction by mountaintop removal mining. Pancake’s decision to relate large parts of the story through the consciousness of teenagers allows for highly emotional perspectives that have the potential to engage readers in the social and moral issues around resource extraction.
Chapter
The purpose of this chapter is to contribute to the theoretical frame of transmedia journalism by proposing a question-based model that focuses on transmedia design when an immersive journalism piece is integrated into a transmedia space. Immersive journalism is a new medium that could be effectively used to foster social empathy by means of virtual reality stories in journalism. The chapter is guided by the following ideas: (1) narrative strategies that may be useful in the design of immersive journalism experiences; (2) aesthetic principles of immersive experiences; and (3) inclusion of an immersive experience in a transmedia space. Thus, this chapter reviews the narrative techniques and aesthetics of immersive experiences that might contribute to the design of both the immersive piece and the transmedia space.
Chapter
The purpose of this chapter is to contribute to the theoretical frame of transmedia journalism by proposing a question-based model that focuses on transmedia design when an immersive journalism piece is integrated into a transmedia space. Immersive journalism is a new medium that could be effectively used to foster social empathy by means of virtual reality stories in journalism. The chapter is guided by the following ideas: (1) narrative strategies that may be useful in the design of immersive journalism experiences; (2) aesthetic principles of immersive experiences; and (3) inclusion of an immersive experience in a transmedia space. Thus, this chapter reviews the narrative techniques and aesthetics of immersive experiences that might contribute to the design of both the immersive piece and the transmedia space.
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Elaborated role play (i.e., pretending in which children imagine and act out the part of another individual on a regular basis) is often considered an early indicator of creativity, but there is not strong research evidence of a relation between this type of pretend play and performance on creativity tasks during the preschool years. One possible reason is that the measures of creativity that are commonly used are not appropriate for young children. To address this, we developed 2 new measures of creativity based on a storytelling task, in which children were asked to complete a story, and a drawing task, in which children were asked to draw an imaginary person. Of the 75 4-and 5-year-old children who participated, those who engaged in elaborated role play had higher creativity scores on both measures (controlling for age and language ability). In contrast, children's performance on a measure of pretend play development that did not involve imaginary others (i.e., the action pantomime task) was not related to either measure of creativity. These results suggest that the storytelling and drawing measures were effective in assessing children's creativity, and that they were specifically associated with elaborated role play, rather than the developmental level of children's ability to pretend.
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Although imaginal dialogue—dialogues with imaginary others—suffuse fantasy, dreams, the play of children, and the private speech and thought of adults, there has until now been no attempt to group together the various instances of such dialogues and to examine their phenomenology and treatment significance. After critically reviewing the reductive strategies that developmental psychologists and psychoanalysts have traditionally employed in dealing with these phenomena, Watkins outlines a novel theory of imaginal dialogues as growth-promoting and creative. She is not content merely to document the enduring presence of imaginary others throughout the life cycle; instead, she assigns imaginal dialogues a "conceptual space" where, in her words, "their development is not reduced to a change from the presence in childhood to their absence in adulthood." In demarcating this space, she enriches her depth-psychological argument with insights culled from anthropology, religion, mythology, and literature. In the final section of "Invisible Guests," Watkins turns to the treatment implications of her developmental approach. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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This paper proposes that make-believe play expresses the young child's emerging capacity to engage in counterfactual or would-be thinking. Three important developments enable preschoolers to create joint make-believe worlds with others: the ability to (1) manage multiple roles as playwrights and actors, (2) invent novel plots, and (3) deliberately blur the boundary between reality and pretense. Given that joint make-believe play turns out to be such a complex representational activity, the question about its function raises itself more insistently than ever. Of the many social and cognitive functions that have been proposed, emotional mastery is the only one that could not equally be exercised in nonpretend contexts. There is evidence, however, that in nonclinical settings the well-adjusted, secure children are most able to benefit from the opportunity for emotional mastery offered by sociodramatic play, whereas less-well-adjusted, insecure children are not. This has important implications for the design of play interventions.
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Describes the Interpersonal Reactivity Index (IRI) and its relationships with measures of social functioning, self-esteem, emotionality, and sensitivity to others. 677 male and 667 female undergraduates served as Ss. Each of the 4 IRI subscales displayed a distinctive and predictable pattern of relationships with these measures, as well as with previous unidimensional empathy measures. Findings provide evidence for a multidimensional approach to empathy. (29 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).
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Thesis--University of Texas at Austin. Vita. Includes bibliographical references (leaves 209-219).
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Dissociation is a lack of the normal integration of thoughts, feelings, and experiences into the stream of consciousness and memory. Dissociation occurs to some degree in normal individuals and is thought to be more prevalent in persons with major mental illnesses. The Dissociative Experiences Scale (DES) has been developed to offer a means of reliably measuring dissociation in normal and clinical populations. Scale items were developed using clinical data and interviews, scales involving memory loss, and consultations with experts in dissociation. Pilot testing was performed to refine the wording and format of the scale. The scale is a 28-item self-report questionnaire. Subjects were asked to make slashes on 100-mm lines to indicate where they fall on a continuum for each question. In addition, demographic information (age, sex, occupation, and level of education) was collected so that the connection between these variables and scale scores could be examined. The mean of all item scores ranges from 0 to 100 and is called the DES score. The scale was administered to between 10 and 39 subjects in each of the following populations: normal adults, late adolescent college students, and persons suffering from alcoholism, agoraphobia, phobic-anxious disorders, posttraumatic stress disorder, schizophrenia, and multiple personality disorder. Reliability testing of the scale showed that the scale had good test-retest and good split-half reliability. Item-scale score correlations were all significant, indicating good internal consistency and construct validity. A Kruskal-Wallis test and post hoc comparisons of the scores of the eight populations provided evidence of the scale's criterion-referenced validity.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)
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The experience of willing an act arises from interpreting one's thought as the cause of the act. Conscious will is thus experienced as a function of the priority, consistency, and exclusivity of the thought about the action. The thought must occur before the action, be consistent with the action, and not be accompanied by other causes. An experiment illustrating the role of priority found that people can arrive at the mistaken belief that they have intentionally caused an action that in fact they were forced to perform when they are simply led to think about the action just before its occurrence.
Article
To facilitate a multidimensional approach to empathy the Interpersonal Reactivity Index (IRI) includes 4 subscales: Perspective-Taking (PT) Fantasy (FS) Empathic Concern (EC) and Personal Distress (PD). The aim of the present study was to establish the convergent and discriminant validity of these 4 subscales. Hypothesized relationships among the IRI subscales between the subscales and measures of other psychological constructs (social functioning self-esteem emotionality and sensitivity to others) and between the subscales and extant empathy measures were examined. Study subjects included 677 male and 667 female students enrolled in undergraduate psychology classes at the University of Texas. The IRI scales not only exhibited the predicted relationships among themselves but also were related in the expected manner to other measures. Higher PT scores were consistently associated with better social functioning and higher self-esteem; in contrast Fantasy scores were unrelated to these 2 characteristics. High EC scores were positively associated with shyness and anxiety but negatively linked to egotism. The most substantial relationships in the study involved the PD scale. PD scores were strongly linked with low self-esteem and poor interpersonal functioning as well as a constellation of vulnerability uncertainty and fearfulness. These findings support a multidimensional approach to empathy by providing evidence that the 4 qualities tapped by the IRI are indeed separate constructs each related in specific ways to other psychological measures.
Article
Pretend play is a pervasive behavior that has attracted considerable attention over the past decade. In the article, the research is reviewed in the context of the diverse theoretical orientations that have stimulated these efforts. The most productive theoretical positions tend to deal with selected aspects of the behavior (e. g., solitary or social pretense, developmental change, individual differences, environmental factors) rather than its entirety. Recent contributions have offered a refined account of developmental changes in pretense and an examination of the behavioral processes involved. Studies of individual differences suggest that pretense may reflect a stable personality trait, although evidence concerning antecedent factors is inconclusive. Training studies have demonstrated procedures for increasing spontaneous pretense, and some of these suggest a relation between enhanced play and improved performance on measures of social and cognitive functioning. Other procedures have been used to demonstrate a relation between pretense and creativity. Although outcome studies have become increasingly sophisticated, they pose numerous interpretive problems. Areas in need of further inquiry are discussed with respect to issues that require theoretical or empirical clarification.
Article
This article examined evidence for dimensional and typological models of dissociation. The authors reviewed previous research with the Dissociative Experiences Scale (DES; E. B. Bernstein-Carlson & F. W. Putnam; see record 1987-14407-001) and note that this scale, like other dissociation questionnaires, was developed to measure that so called dissociative continuum. Next, recently developed taxometric methods for distinguishing typological from dimensional constructs are described and applied to DES item-response data from 228 adults with diagnosed multiple personality disorder and 228 normal controls. The taxometric findings empirically justify the distinction between two types of dissociative experiences. Nonpathological dissociative experiences are manifestations of a dissociative trait, whereas pathological dissociative experiences are manifestations of a latent class variable. The taxometric findings also indicate that there are two types of dissociators. Individuals in the pathological dissociative class (taxon) can be identified with a brief, 8-item questionnaire called the DES-T. Scores on the DES-T and DES are compared in 11 clinical and nonclinical samples. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
The hypothesized relationship between childhood imaginary companions and adolescent creativity received partial support in a sample of 800 high school students, subdivided according to creativity, sex, and specialty. Creative adolescents in the literary field reported this childhood phenomenon significantly more often than their matched controls. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Book
Reviews the book, Play, Dreams and Imitation in Childhood by Jean Piaget (1951). The current work by Piaget is another stimulating and provocative contribution to the literature on the development of children's thinking. In this well-translated volume, Piaget has as his basic goal an explanation of the evolution of "representative activity," which is "characterized by the fact that it goes beyond the present, extending the field of adaptation both in space and in time." Such an activity is essential in reflective thought as well as in operational thought. Two theses are presented by Piaget in the book: (a) the transition from rudimentary, primitive, and situational assimilation of experience to the operational and reflective adaptation of experience can be studied by the analysis of imitative behavior and play activity of the child from very early months of the life; and (b) various forms of mental activity--imitation, symbolic activity, and cognitive representation--are interacting. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
Young children are often viewed as being unable to differentiate fantasy from reality. This article reviews research on both children's and adults beliefs about' fantasy as well as their tendency to engage in what is thought of as “magical thinking.” It is suggested that children are not fundamentally different from adults in their ability to distinguish fantasy from reality: Both children and adults entertain fantastical beliefs and also engage in magical thinking. Suggestions are offered as to how children and adults may differ in this domain, and an agenda for future research is offered.
Article
The Dissociative Experiences Scale was administered to a random sample of 1,055 adults in the city of Winnipeg. Results showed that scale scores did not differ between men and women and were not influenced by income, employment status, education, place of birth, religious affiliation, or number of persons in the respondent's household. Dissociative experiences are common in the general population and decline with age. The findings suggest that dissociative disorders may also be common in the general population.
Article
Young children are often viewed as being unable to differentiate fantasy from reality. This article reviews research on both children's and adults' beliefs about fantasy as well as their tendency to engage in what is thought of as "magical thinking." It is suggested that children are not fundamentally different from adults in their ability to distinguish fantasy from reality: Both children and adults entertain fantastical beliefs and also engage in magical thinking. Suggestions are offered as to how children and adults may differ in this domain, and an agenda for future research is offered.
The Diary ofFrida Kahlo: An Intimate Self-portrait (Introduction by Carlos Fuentes
  • F Kahlo
F. Kahlo, The Diary ofFrida Kahlo: An Intimate Self-portrait (Introduction by Carlos Fuentes, essay by Sarah M. Lowe), Harry N. Abrams, Inc., New York, 1995.
Kurt and Courtney, Fox Lorber Distributors
  • N Bloomfield
N. Bloomfield (Director), Kurt and Courtney, Fox Lorber Distributors, Los Angeles, 1998.
In Search of Our Mother's Garden, Harcourt-Brace Jovanovich
  • A Walker
A. Walker, In Search of Our Mother's Garden, Harcourt-Brace Jovanovich, New York, 1983.
TheFrenchLieutenant 's Woman, Little, Brown & Company
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J. Fowles, TheFrenchLieutenant 's Woman, Little, Brown & Company, Boston, 1969.
Aspects of the Novel, Hatcourt Brace
  • E M Forster
E. M. Forster, Aspects of the Novel, Hatcourt Brace, New York, 192711985, 17. B. Stoney, EnidBlyton: A Biography, Hodder, London, 1974.
The Feeling of Doing, in The Psychology
  • M E Ansfield
  • D M Wegner
M. E. Ansfield and D. M. Wegner, The Feeling of Doing, in The Psychology ofAction, P.M. Gollwitzerand J. A. Bargb(eds.), GuilfordPress,NewYork, pp. 482-506,1996.
Writing in Flow: Keys to Enhanced Creativity, Writer's Digest
  • S K Perry
S. K. Perry, Writing in Flow: Keys to Enhanced Creativity, Writer's Digest, Cincinnati, Ohio, 1999.
Dissociative Experiences in the General Population, Hospitaland Community Psychiatry
  • C A Ross
  • S Joshi
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C. A. Ross, S. Joshi, andR. Currie, Dissociative Experiences in the General Population, Hospitaland Community Psychiatry, 423, pp. 297-301, 1991.
Radio Interview on The Diane Rehm Show, NPR
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J. K. Rowling, Radio Interview on The Diane Rehm Show, NPR, October, 1999.
Imaeinm Comnanions and Creative Adolescents. Develoumental ~ ~ -, Psychology, I
  • C Schaefer
C. Schaefer Imaeinm Comnanions and Creative Adolescents. Develoumental ~ ~ -, Psychology, I, pp. 747-749, 1969.