Article

The Personality Correlates of Adults Who Had Imaginary Companions in Childhood

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Abstract

Two studies showed that adults who reported having an imaginary companion as a child differed from adults who did not on certain personality dimensions. The first yielded a higher mean on the Gough Creative Personality Scale for the group who had imaginary companions. Study 2 showed that such adults scored higher on the Achievement and Absorption subscales of Tellegen's Multidimensional Personality Questionnaire. The results suggest that some differences reported in the developmental literature may be observed in adults.

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... Schaefer (1969) reported that adolescents with a history of IC play were more likely to belong to the creative group of their study compared with peers without it. This finding was shown among adults as well (Kidd et al., 2010). Another relevant line of research associated IC play with fantasy-oriented activities. ...
... Impulsive nonconformity is associated with antisocial behavior and affective episodes (Chapman et al., 1984); it relates to Eysenck's Psychoticism Scale and its moderate scores was shown to be related to the preference for a non-conforming way of life (Mason et al., 1995). Phenomenological aspects of childhood ICs, its association with creativity (Hoff, 2005;Kidd et al., 2010;Schaefer, 1969) and fantasy-proneness, and its direct relation with hallucination-like experiences seem to have overlaps with traits and correlates of positive schizotypy and as such, having ICs can be considered an early phenotype of tendency towards (positive) schizotypy later in adolescence and adulthood. ...
... The association between having imaginary friends and being more creative was reported in several studies (Hoff, 2005;Kidd et al., 2010;Schaefer, 1969). Likewise, the ImpNon dimension of schizotypy, in addition to the UnEx dimension, was found to be associated with creativity (Batey & Furnham, 2008;Perchtold-Stefan et al., 2021). ...
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.”
... Consequently, it could be regarded that individuals who are more cognitively engaged with the fictional world created during pretend play engage in other imaginative activities in a similar way. Supporting this, children vary in the extent to which they become absorbed in role play, and those adults reported as having an imaginary companion in childhood were more likely to become absorbed in their own fantasies (Harris, 2000;Kidd, Rogers, & Rogers, 2010). Therefore, in order to understand more regarding the construct of imagination in the middle childhood period, there is a need for research to explore the different ways in which children engage with fictional worlds created in their play, and the extent to which this is associated with their engagement in other imaginative activities. ...
... In childhood, those who have imaginary companions, as compared to those without, show more imaginativeness and emotionality in their spontaneous play (Singer & Singer, 1990); attribute mental states to their friends more (Davis, Meins, & Fernyhough, 2014); demonstrate better emotion understanding and theory of mind (Giménez-Dasí, Pons, & Bender, 2016;Taylor, 1999); engage in more private speech (Davis, Meins, & Fernyhough, 2013); have better language abilities (Singer & Singer, 1990); and tell richer narratives (Trionfi & Reese, 2009). Additionally, in research with adolescents and adults recollecting whether they had an imaginary companion in childhood, those with imaginary companions were rated as being 24 more creative (Kidd et al., 2010;Schaefer, 1969), more aware of their own internal states (Gleason, Jarudi, & Cheek, 2003), more likely to become absorbed in their recollections and imaginings (Kidd et al., 2010), and scored higher on other general measures of imagination such as imagery and vivid dreams (Firth, Alderson-Day, Woods, & Fernyhough, 2015;Gleason et al., 2003). Therefore, on the basis of these converging findings, the presence of an imaginary companion is considered to reflect a child's general imaginative capacity that is stable into adulthood, supporting the conclusion that imagination can be viewed as a trait in childhood that may vary across individuals (Singer & Singer, 1990). ...
... In childhood, those who have imaginary companions, as compared to those without, show more imaginativeness and emotionality in their spontaneous play (Singer & Singer, 1990); attribute mental states to their friends more (Davis, Meins, & Fernyhough, 2014); demonstrate better emotion understanding and theory of mind (Giménez-Dasí, Pons, & Bender, 2016;Taylor, 1999); engage in more private speech (Davis, Meins, & Fernyhough, 2013); have better language abilities (Singer & Singer, 1990); and tell richer narratives (Trionfi & Reese, 2009). Additionally, in research with adolescents and adults recollecting whether they had an imaginary companion in childhood, those with imaginary companions were rated as being 24 more creative (Kidd et al., 2010;Schaefer, 1969), more aware of their own internal states (Gleason, Jarudi, & Cheek, 2003), more likely to become absorbed in their recollections and imaginings (Kidd et al., 2010), and scored higher on other general measures of imagination such as imagery and vivid dreams (Firth, Alderson-Day, Woods, & Fernyhough, 2015;Gleason et al., 2003). Therefore, on the basis of these converging findings, the presence of an imaginary companion is considered to reflect a child's general imaginative capacity that is stable into adulthood, supporting the conclusion that imagination can be viewed as a trait in childhood that may vary across individuals (Singer & Singer, 1990). ...
Thesis
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This thesis focuses on the imaginative activities that are present in middle childhood, and how children engage in the fictional worlds created during play in non-virtual and virtual activities. This was investigated in the context of the Cardiff Child Development Study, a UK-based prospective longitudinal study of first-born children. In Chapter 3, I analysed questionnaire data on children’s play activities. The children were reported by caregivers’ as enjoying a variety of playful and imaginative activities, including activities previously considered to be absent at this age, or neglected in previous research. Gender differences were reported for some activities, supporting those found in existing literature. In Chapters 4 and 5, I developed coding schemes of children’s engagement with the fictional world (play frame) created when children played with Playmobil figures, and their immersion in the virtual world of a bespoke video game. Children’s engagement with the play frame was considered to be in the role of an actor, manager, or narrator of the play. Children’s engagement with the video game was considered to reflect their immersive engagement with the virtual world or functional engagement with the mechanics of the game. Boys were more engaged in the role of an actor in the play frame and more immersed with the virtual world than girls. In Chapter 6, I examined links between the virtual and non-virtual tasks. Positive associations were found between children’s engagement as an actor and their immersion, even when controlling for gender. Children’s references to the internal states of the fictional characters were also compared as an indication of their engagement with the fictional worlds, and were associated across contexts when controlling for receptive vocabulary and gender. These findings add to knowledge regarding imagination in childhood, in supporting that children’s engagement in fictional worlds could represent an expression of an imaginative characteristic.
... Several studies have used retrospective survey designs to investigate whether having an IC during childhood is related to personality characteristics and creativity as an adult (Gleason, Jarudi, & Cheek, 2003;Kidd, Rogers, & Rogers, 2010;Taylor, Hulette, & Dishion, 2010). Similarly, research has suggested that creating an IC is an advanced form of fantasy play (Harris, 2000;Taylor, 1999), with children who have such companions scoring significantly higher on measures of fantasy predisposition and ability than those without (Bouldin & Pratt, 1999;Taylor & Carlson, 1997). ...
... Using a retrospective self-report method among undergraduate students, Gleason et al. (2003) and Kidd et al. (2010) found that individuals who reported having a childhood IC scored significantly higher on measures of imagination, internal state awareness, creativity, absorption, and achievement during adulthood than those who did not report having an IC. Furthermore, in a longitudinal study of high-risk school children, Taylor et al. (2010) reported that having an IC during the middle school period was related to greater positive adjustment at the end of high school. ...
... Beyond asking adults to report the existence of a childhood IC as a yes or no categorical response (e.g., see Gleason et al., 2003;Kidd et al., 2010), there is a lack of valid and reliable questionnaires aiming to measure childhood fantasy play involvement. Smith and Lillard (2012) conducted a retrospective survey; however, this was primarily designed to investigate when engagement in fantasy play ceases and it was composed of a combination of open-ended and forced choice questions, many of which required coding by trained raters. ...
Article
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This article describes the development and initial psychometric properties of the Retrospective Childhood Fantasy Play Scale (RCFPS), a brief 11-item retrospective self-report measure of preference for, and engagement with, fantasy play during childhood. Five studies were conducted to (a) develop the initial items for the scale (n = 77), (b) determine the underlying factor structure (n = 200), (c) test the fit of the model (n = 530), and (d) and (e) ascertain construct validity (n = 200) and convergent validity (n = 263). Overall, the results suggest that the RCFPS is a unidimensional measure with acceptable fit and preliminary validity. The RCFPS may prove useful in educational and developmental research as an alternative to longitudinal studies to further investigate how childhood fantasy play relates to individual differences in adulthood (e.g., in the areas of creativity, theory of mind, and narrative skills).
... Participants with an IC used significantly more imagery, reported more vivid night-dreams, and scored higher on a composite imagination measure (Gleason et al., 2003). Kidd, Rogers, and Rogers (2010) conducted two studies focusing on whether having an IC as a child was associated with particular personality characteristics in adulthood. They first reported that students who recalled having an IC scored higher on a self-report measure of creativity. ...
... They first reported that students who recalled having an IC scored higher on a self-report measure of creativity. Then, using another population of students, they showed that those with a childhood IC scored higher on the absorption in active imagination personality dimension (Kidd et al., 2010). Finally, Dierker, Dais, and Sanders (1995) showed that adults who reported the presence of an IC in childhood also scored highly on an imagination inventory and a measure of dissociative traits (such as absorption). ...
... Previous research into this theory has suffered from the methodological challenges inherent in assessing childhood imagination (Taylor, 1999). This study avoided some such limitations by assessing imaginative abilities through task performance rather than self-report, confirming previous findings (e.g., Gleason et al., 2003;Kidd et al., 2010;Dierker et al., 1995) that retrospective reports of childhood ICs are associated with imagination competence in adulthood. The view that childhood engagement with an IC predicts imaginative competence in adulthood was also supported by participants' imagination self-rating scores. ...
Article
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The presence of a childhood imaginary companion (IC) has been proposed to reflect heightened imaginative abilities. This study hypothesized that adults who reported having a childhood IC would score higher on a task requiring the imaginative construction of visual scenes. Additionally, it was proposed that individuals who produced more vivid and detailed scenes would also report richer autobiographical memories, due to a shared reliance on imaginative abilities in construction and recollection. Sixty participants (20 with an IC), completed an adapted scene construction procedure and an autobiographical memory questionnaire. Participants reporting a childhood IC scored significantly higher on scene construction and rated themselves as more imaginative. Scene construction scores were also moderately related to the richness of autobiographical memories, although this was almost entirely due to scores on the thought/emotion/action component of scene construction. Autobiographical memory was unrelated to the presence of an IC. Implications for overlapping and dissociable aspects of imagination and memory are discussed. © 2015 Lucy Firth, Ben Alderson-Day, Natalie Woods, and Charles Fernyhough. Published with license by Taylor & Francis.
... We found consensus for the existence of seven domains, including imaginary childhood friends, daydreaming, dreams, thinking styles, transportation, imaginative responsiveness, and fantasies. While six of these domains focused on current behaviours, we also included retrospective reports on having imaginary friends in childhood, because they have been demonstrated to predict imagination in adulthood (Kidd, Rogers, & Rogers, 2010). For each domain, we created an initial item pool to assess the frequency, permanency and intensity of corresponding imaginative behaviours, resulting in the Imaginative Behaviour Engagement Scale (IBES; the full scale can be found in the Appendix; details on the scale's validation and its psychometric properties are below and in the Supplementary Online Materials (SOM)). ...
... learning and creativity require effort and focus, while schizotypal beliefs are often involuntary and beyond the reach of conscious control. Our conceptualisation of imagination resulted in a measure that captured behavioural tendencies under varying degrees of executive control, for example having had an imaginary friend in childhood (low control) or revising and developing further specific fantasies (high control; Kidd et al., 2010). That said, the majority of IBES items viewed imagination as a natural, uncontrolled thinking process, akin to schizotypal beliefs that are typically also beyond an individual's control (Lenzenweger, 2018). ...
Article
Imagination refers to creating mental representations of concepts, ideas, and sensations that are not contemporaneously perceived by the senses. Although it is key to human individuality, research on imagination is scarce. To address this gap, we developed here a new psychometric test to assess individual differences in imagination and explored the role of imagination for learning, creativity, and schizotypal beliefs. In a laboratory‐based (N = 180) and an online study (N = 128), we found that imagination is only weakly associated with learning achievement and creativity, accounting for 2–8% of the variance. By contrast, imagination accounted for 22.5% of the variance in schizotypal beliefs, suggesting overall that imagination may be more indicative of cognitive eccentricities rather than benefit the accumulation of knowledge or production of novel and useful ideas.
... For older children and adults, the presence of an imaginary companion is typically assessed via self-report measures (e.g., Kidd, Rogers, & Rogers, 2010;Pearson et al., 2001;Seiffge-Krenke, 1997). However, for younger children, researchers often supplement child reports with parent interviews (see Taylor, 1999). ...
Chapter
Both past and current research indicates that the creation of an imaginary companion is a common, normative, and healthy form of elaborated role-play that emerges in early childhood. Imaginary companions are often the invisible friends that children create for themselves, or the special stuffed animals or dolls that children imbue with personalities. Despite being imaginary, children often describe and experience their imaginary companions in ways that parallel real friendships with peers. Children’s emotional investment in these invented characters raises important questions about the broader roles they serve in their lives. Current research in this area has focused on the developmental significance of imaginary companions, and the extent to which they might have a real and meaningful impact on the development. This chapter reviews the extant literature on imaginary companions, with a particular focus on the relations between children’s imaginary companions, creativity, and coping with adversity.
... Expanded research from this standpoint could eventually refine or reinterpret the evidence that some ICs are linked to hallucination-like experience or schizotypal thinking across different age groups (Fernyhough, et. al., 2007;Fernyhough et al., 2019;Jones et al., 2015;Kidd, Rogers, & Rogers, 2010;Sánchez-Bernardos & Avia, 2006). ...
Article
Reports of childhood imaginary companions (IC) sometimes contain "creepy or spooky" perceptions or themes that suggest such occurrences could be overlooked or disguised forms of a "ghostly episode" or "entity encounter experience." This idea was explored via a content analysis of vetted narratives from the Reddit website involving ICs with haunt-type features (n = 143). We tested whether the phenomenology of these experiences: (a) show an "Age × Gender × Anxiety" effect consistent with the assumed psychology of focus persons in poltergeist-like experiences; (b) map to Houran et al.'s (2019b) Rasch hierarchy of anomalies associated with ghostly episodes per the Survey of Strange Events (SSE); and (c) correspond to a specific type of "haunt condition" (i.e., spontaneous, primed, lifestyle, fantasy, or illicit). Results indicated that ICs attributed to "ghosts" corresponded to higher SSE scores. Experients' gender and inferred anxiety likewise showed significant and positive associations with SSE scores. Finally, the SSE features of ghostly IC experiences most strongly correlated to the phenomenologies of "spontaneous" and "induced" haunt conditions as reported in Houran et al. (2019b). We discuss the results in terms of some ICs being anomalous or exceptional human experiences that might require approaches beyond developmental and clinical psychology to understand fully their contents, structure, and ultimate nature.
... Expanded research from this standpoint could eventually refine or reinterpret the evidence that some ICs are linked to hallucination-like experience or schizotypal thinking across different age groups (Fernyhough, et. al., 2007;Fernyhough et al., 2019;Jones et al., 2015;Kidd, Rogers, & Rogers, 2010;Sánchez-Bernardos & Avia, 2006). ...
... The reported overall prevalence of imaginary companions ranges from 17% (Bouldin & Pratt, 1999) to 65% (Singer & Singer, 1990). However, when this percentage is broken down by age of reporting, the average rates tend to be higher in research involving children (see e.g., Davis, Meins, & Fernyhough, 2011, 2013Gleason, 2004aGleason, , 2004bGleason & Kalpidou, 2014;Manosevitz, Prentice, & Wilson, 1973;Taylor, Sachet, Maring, & Mannering, 2013;Trionfi & Reese, 2009) than in research involving adolescents and adults (e.g., Bonne, Canetti, Bachar, De-Nour, & Shalev, 1999;Brinthaupt & Dove, 2012;Gleason, Jarudi, & Cheek, 2003;Kidd, Rogers, & Rogers, 2010;Schaefer, 1969). It is important to note, however, that Taylor and colleagues (2004) found that only 39% of the 6-to 7-year-old children who had reported an imaginary companion when they were 3-4 years old could recall the companion they had described earlier. ...
Article
Do adolescents remember imaginary companions (ICs) from early childhood? Researchers interviewed 46 adolescent participants in a prospective longitudinal study about their ICs from early childhood (age 5½). The existence of one or more ICs was documented in early childhood for 48% of children (G. Trionfi & E. Reese, 2009). At age 16, most adolescents had forgotten their early childhood ICs: Only 5 of the 23 participants who had early childhood ICs recalled those ICs later. Eight participants who had forgotten their early childhood ICs recalled a later IC, and four participants who did not have an IC at age 5 ½ reported one by age 16. Ten of the 23 participants who had early childhood ICs claimed never to have had an IC. Girls were more likely to recall their early childhood ICs. Retrospective reports of ICs in adolescence or later life may be unreliable for investigating differences between those with and without imaginary companions. Those with ICs may not be a homogenous group, with some creating ICs throughout childhood and some desisting from this behavior in early childhood. Findings indicate that both the remembering and forgetting of ICs has potential to illuminate cognitive and creative processes surrounding both memory and imagination.
... Having imaginary companions is one of the most frequent kinds of fantasy in childhood (Svendson, 1934), and it is correlated with good development in adolescence (Seiffge-Krenke, 1997) and creativity in adulthood (Kidd et al., 2010). In particular, about the expression "good development, " Seiffge-Krenke (1997) demonstrated that adolescents with an imaginary companion do not differ from age mates without an imaginary companion with respect to the number and closeness of friends, the role-taking and perspective-taking ability. ...
Article
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Fantasy in children is a precocious and important skill. In normal subjects some imaginative events, very close to hallucinations (perception-like experiences), have been found. Therefore, a better knowledge on both fantasy and the difference between imagination and the external world is needed. The aims of this study are: (a) to validate a new questionnaire for fantasy in children and adolescents; (b) to test its clinical application in ADHD children. 1.707 participants aged 8-18 years were enrolled: 1557 were recruited from a survey in six schools, whereas 150 participants were recruited in an ADHD Center. They filled out a new questionnaire, the Free Fantasy Questionnaire for Children and Adolescents, FFQ. Statistical analyses were performed to validate the FFQ and to study five parameters of fantasy. Analyses showed good properties of the FFQ as regards factor structure and reliability. Descriptive analysis showed that: 10% of the adolescents frequently have fantasy with paracosmos and 9.5% sometimes have a fantasy with imaginary relatives. Moreover, in the 64.3% of participants of primary school, in the 34.5% of lower-secondary, and in the 27.4% of upper-secondary school Perception-like experiences, involving invisible but real personages, were found. Quality of fantasy and Lack of control on imagination are correlated with a high score in the Reality/Unreality Dimension and Perception-like experiences. As regards ADHD participants, the 40% of the group showed Perception-like experiences: the 21.66% of them reported a very high score in the dimension Reality/Unreality, have some dissociative symptoms, and the 3.33% presented a clear dissociative identity disorder. All were free from psychosis or neurologic disorders. A new questionnaire to study fantasy in children and adolescents was validated. Many children and adolescents of the general population declared Perception-like experiences. These events seem to be specific, and probably normal, features of the mind; they could be better named as "Dreamtime," whereas only in extreme conditions they could represent a risk for dissociation.
... For example, Gleason, Jarudi, and Cheek (2003) found that female college students who had imaginary childhood companions scored higher on the use of imagery, dependent interpersonal styles, and awareness of their internal states than those without such companions. Other research suggests that both children and adults who had an IC tend to be more creative and show higher levels of absorption than those who did not (e.g., Hoff, 2005;Kidd, Rogers, & Rogers, 2010;Taylor, Hodges, & Kohanyi, 2003). ...
Article
In three studies, we examined differences in the frequency with which people report talking to themselves. Using a standardized measure of self-talk frequency, the Self-Talk Scale (Brinthaupt, Hein, & Kramer, 2009), we collected information about college student participants’ age, sex, and family configuration (i.e., only or sibling child), and whether they had an imaginary companion in childhood. In Study 1, significant differences in self-talk were found between different age groupings. In Study 2, children without siblings reported more self-talk than children with siblings. Finally, in Study 3, respondents who reported having an imaginary companion in childhood also reported significantly more self-talk than those who did not have an imaginary childhood companion. We discuss the self-regulatory and developmental implications of these results.
... Finally, children with imaginary companions show a strong inclination toward engaging in fantasy-themed play and show higher levels of creativity than children who do not have imaginary companions (Hoff, 2005; Schaeffer, 1969; Taylor, 1999). Adults who recall having an imaginary companion as a child have also been shown to outperform those who do not on a variety of creativity indices (Gleason, Jarudi, & Cheek, 2003; Kidd, Rogers, & Rogers, 2010; Taylor, Hodges, & Kohanyi, 2003). More directly, Dansky and Silverman (1973) gave a group of 4- to 6-year-old children 10 minutes to play with a set of objects that included paper towels, a screwdriver, empty matchboxes, and paper clips. ...
Article
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There is much controversy over what is needed for culture to flourish and what has led human culture to be different from "cultural" characteristics of other animals. Here I argue that the emergence of childhood as a step in the life cycle was critical to the evolution of the human cultural mind. My line of reasoning is built around two complementary features of childhood: imitation and play. When children imitate adults they routinely copy unnecessary and arbitrary actions. They will persistently replicate how an object is used, even when doing so interferes with their ability to produce the very outcome those actions are intended to bring about. Though seemingly maladaptive, this behavior provides for the faithful transmission of cultural ideas across generations. When children play together they commonly construct rules and meanings that exist purely because the players agree they "exist." Play thus provides the building blocks with which children rehearse the kinds of institutional realities that typify cultural practices. I argue that these forms of imitation and play represent a foundation upon which human culture flourished and that neither are prevalent in nonhuman animals. In light of these arguments evidence will be assessed suggesting that childhood emerged relatively late in human evolution.
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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Little is known about what factors are associated with emerging adult theory of mind (ToM). We predicted that childhood fantasy play (CFP), need for cognition (NfC), and fiction reading would be positive predictors due to their deliberative, perspective-taking nature while engagement with media and technology would be a negative predictor due to increased interpersonal distance. The best-fit mixed logit model ( N = 369) showed that CFP, texting frequency, and NfC were significant positive predictors while smartphone usage and preference for task switching were significant negative predictors. Email and phone call usage were contributing nonsignificant negative predictors. Our study extends previous findings regarding NfC and highlights the importance of CFP engagement for ToM beyond immediate childhood. Future research should investigate how subtly different media (e.g., texting vs. smartphone use) have differential predictive relationships with social cognition. Data and code are available at doi: 10.17605/OSF.IO/CBD9J.
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A sample of 102 college women completed a set of imagination and personality measures and reported whether they had ever had imaginary companions during childhood. Participants who reported imaginary companions scored higher than did those who did not on measures of imagination including imagery use, hostile daydreams, and vivid night dreams, and on personality scales including dependent interpersonal styles and internal-state awareness. Participant groups did not differ significantly on shyness, other interpersonal styles, or measures of self-concept. Comparison of these results with research on children and adolescents with imaginary companions suggests a coherent developmental pattern in social orientation characterized by sensitivity and accommodation to others' needs. [Gleason, T.R., Jarudi, R.N., & Cheek, J.M. (2003). Imagination, personality, and imaginary companions. Social Behavior and Personality, 31, 721-738.]
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This study investigates 4 questions: First, whether there is a relationship between imaginary companions and creative potential; second, whether children with negative self-images are more likely to have imaginary companions; third, whether there are gender differences among those children who have imaginary companions; and, finally, what aspects of imaginary companions and what characteristics of those who invent them are related to creativity. The measurements used were a questionnaire about imaginary companions, 3 estimates of creative potential, and a self-image inventory. Among the 69 participating 4th graders, 52% reported having (had) imaginary companions. The children with imaginary companions were more creative on 2 of 3 estimates of creativity and had lower self-image scores. The self-image differences were greatest on the subscales measuring psychological well-being and peer relations. It was more common for girls to have imaginary companions. Aspects associated with creativity among the children with imaginary companions were, for example, elaboration of the companion's character and number of imaginary companions.
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Dissociation is typically defined as the lack of normal integration of thoughts, feelings, and experiences into consciousness and memory. The present article critically evaluates the research literature on cognitive processes in dissociation. The authors' review indicates that dissociation is characterized by subtle deficits in neuropsychological performance (e.g., heightened distractibility). Some of the cognitive phenomena (e.g., weakened cognitive inhibition) associated with dissociation appear to be dependent on the emotional or attentional context. Contrary to a widespread assumption in the clinical literature, dissociation does not appear to be related to avoidant information processing. Rather, it is associated with an enhanced propensity toward pseudo-memories, possibly mediated by heightened levels of interrogative suggestibility, fantasy proneness, and cognitive failures. Evidence for a link between dissociation and either memory fragmentation or early trauma based on objective measures is conspicuously lacking. The authors identify a variety of methodological issues and discrepancies that make it difficult to articulate a comprehensive framework for cognitive mechanisms in dissociation. The authors conclude with a discussion of research domains (e.g., sleep-related experiences, drug-related dissociation) that promise to advance our understanding of cognition and dissociation.
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The Adjective Check List was administered to 7 male and 5 female samples comprising 1,701 Ss. Direct or inferred ratings of creativity were available for all Ss. The samples covered a wide range of ages and kinds of work; criteria of creativity were also varied, including ratings by expert judges, faculty members, personality assessment staff observers, and life history interviewers. The creativity scales of G. Domino (1974) and C. E. Schaefer (1972, 1973) were scored on all protocols, as were G. S. Welsh's (1975) A-1, A-2, A-3, and A-4 scales for different combinations of "origence" and "intelligence." From item analyses a new 30-item Creative Personality Scale was developed that was positively and significantly related to all 6 of the prior measures but that surpassed them in its correlations with the criterion evaluations. (29 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).
Article
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.
Article
This article reviews theoretical and empirical work on absorption and the relationship of absorption with selected variables. Absorption is defined as a characteristic that involves an openness to experience emotional and cognitive alterations across a variety of situations. The nature and assessment of absorption and the relationship of absorption with (a) hypnosis and hypnotizability, (b) imagery, daydreaming, and consciousness, and (c) attentional processing and psychophysiological responding are considered. Conceptual and methodological issues are examined, and directions for future research are specified. Absorption is argued to be central to an understanding of the nature of subjective experience as well as to aspects of cognition and behavior. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
The phenomenon of imaginary companions, which is usually regarded as normal in children, but which when encountered in adults suggests a psychopathologic condition, appears to have had little investigation. However, numerous theories in regard to its significance have been advanced, some of which are sociologic, others psychologic and others psychoanalytic.SIGNIFICANCE OF THE PHENOMENON Sociologic Theories. —Cooley1 observed that:Some children appear to live in personal imagination from the first month. Others occupy themselves in early infancy mostly with solitary experiments upon blocks, cards and other impersonal objects, and their thoughts are doubtlessly filled with images of these.... People differ in the vividness of their imaginative sociability.... There is no separation between real and imaginary persons; indeed to be imagined is to become real in a social sense.Mead2 reported that in New Guinea there are for the children no socially defined lacks in their lives and consequently
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)
Article
Studies of “fantasy-proneness” have suggested a modest relationship with psychopathology, contradicting previous findings of daydreaming as a normal part of human consciousness. To resolve this inconsistency, principal-components analyses of the chief fantasy-proneness measure, the Inventory of Childhood Memories and Imaginings (ICMI), produced 18 weak ICMI dimensions. Only a two-component solution accounting for 20% of variance was moderately stable. Component 1 reflects vivid, compelling mental imagery and parapsychological beliefs, and relates significantly to psychological disorders and professional treatment. Component 2 reflects imaginativeness and enjoyment of make-believe and, like Positive-Constructive Daydreaming, is largely unrelated to disorder scores. “Fantasy-proneness” is a misleading label for factorially complex ICMI full-scale scores.
Article
The current article describes the psychometric qualities of the Creative Experiences Questionnaire (CEQ), a brief 25-item self-report measure of fantasy proneness. Findings indicate that the CEQ demonstrates adequate test-retest stability and internal consistency. CEQ scores appear not to be related to social desirability. The CEQ was found to be strongly correlated with a concurrent measure of fantasy proneness. Furthermore, there are substantial correlations between the CEQ and standard measures of absorption, schizotypy, and dissociation. Bearing in mind that these constructs are thought to be intimately linked to fantasy proneness, this pattern of correlations supports the validity of the CEQ. The CEQ might be fruitfully used as a brief research scale in several domains (e.g. studies on pseudomemories).
Article
The Adjective Check List was administered to 7 male and 5 female samples comprising 1,701 Ss. Direct or inferred ratings of creativity were available for all Ss. The samples covered a wide range of ages and kinds of work; criteria of creativity were also varied, including ratings by expert judges, faculty members, personality assessment staff observers, and life history interviewers. The creativity scales of G. Domino (1974) and C. E. Schaefer (1972, 1973) were scored on all protocols, as were G. S. Welsh's (1975) A-1, A-2, A-3, and A-4 scales for different combinations of "origence" and "intelligence." From item analyses a new 30-item Creative Personality Scale was developed that was positively and significantly related to all 6 of the prior measures but that surpassed them in its correlations with the criterion evaluations. (29 ref)
Article
Typescript. Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Oregon, 1991. Includes vita and abstract. Includes bibliographical references (leaves 140-146).
Article
Case material is presented to illustrate the thesis that the ability to create an imaginary companion during childhood is an early expression of the special ego aptitudes found in creative individuals in adult life. Such "companions" allow these children to attempt to master creatively a variety of narcissistic mortifications suffered in reality and to displace unacceptable affects. In creative adults who had imaginary companions in childhood, the early fantasies serve as an organizing schema in memory for the childhood traumata. Stimuli in adult life which evoke the earlier traumata may revive the original imaginary companion fantasies. These then serve as nodal bases for the creation of specific adult works of art.
Article
Previous investigators have identified several intellective and personality variables thought to be related to imaginary companion phenomena in young children. In the current study, the presence or absence of imaginary companions was assessed and related to intelligence, several creativity measures, and waiting ability in 84 preschool children comprised equally of boys and girls. No significant differences were found for these major variables between those children who had imaginary companions and those who did not. The findings arc compared with previous descriptive, and empirical literature on imaginary companions. Directions for future research on imaginary companion phenomena are briefly discussed.
Article
Creativity scales for the Adjective Check List (ACL) were developed and cross-validated. First, through the use of item analyses, separate creativity scales were developed for each of 4 sex by specialty field groups in an initial sample of adolescents. Each of these scales successfully discriminated creative and control Ss in the cross-validation sample. Subsequently, 2 general creativity scales were formed from the data of the initial sample by selecting only those adjectives which differentiated creative and control Ss across sex and specialty field. The 2 general scales, an 8-item scale and a 27-item scale, also proved successful in discriminating creative and control Ss in the cross-validation sample. In general, the use of the ACL creativity scales developed in this study proved more effective in differentiating creative and control Ss than did a select group of currently available ACL scales. A comparison of the validity of these new creativity scales indicated that the 27-item scale appears to be most promising.
Article
Presents the initial development and cross-validation of a Creativity (Cr) scale for the Adjective Check List (ACL). ACL teacher ratings for 59 creative undergraduates, who had been nominated and observed over a 3-yr period, were compared with those of a control group, individually matched on age, intelligence, adjustment ratings, and academic major. A Cr scale of 59 items more frequently ascribed to creatives was developed, and then cross-validated on 400 adolescents creative in science, art, or literature and 400 appropriate controls. The Cr scale significantly differentiated creatives from controls in every field of endeavor, but was not influenced by sex or type of creativity. The Cr scale appears to possess both rational and empirical validity, is applicable to both sexes, and is not influenced by specificity of creative achievement.
Article
Adolescents prefer close intimate friendships with real same-sex friends as compared to imaginary companions. The developmental benefits of both types of relationships are analyzed, stressing emotional needs, social support, and coping assistance.
Article
The present study was designed to find out to what extent imaginary companions are created in the diaries of adolescents. A total of 241 adolescents aged 12 to 17 years were investigated to determine the incidence as well as the characteristics and functions of such fictitious individuals in this age group. Content analysis of data obtained from questionnaires revealed that the imaginary companion was similar to the writer in many aspects. The imaginary companion supported the adolescent during the process of developing his/her identity. The relative influence of self-concept, creativity, role-taking ability, coping behavior, and egocentrism was then investigated using a hierarchical regression model. Three hypotheses were tested: (1) the deficit hypothesis, i.e. only adolescents with a deficit in social interaction create an imaginary companion, (2) the giftedness hypothesis, i.e. especially creative adolescents invent such a companion and (3) the egocentrism hypothesis, i.e. the construction of an imaginary companion is the result of perceived uniqueness and related to personal fable and imaginary audience behaviour. The results showed that the imaginary companion was not the result of an egocentric orientation, and by no means was a substitute for other trustworthy partners such as family members or friends. On the contrary, socially competent and creative adolescents with good coping abilities were particularly prone to create such a "very special friend".
Article
The relation between early fantasy/pretense and children's knowledge about mental life was examined in a study of 152 3- and 4-year-old boys and girls. Children were interviewed about their fantasy lives (e.g., imaginary companions, impersonation of imagined characters) and were given tasks assessing their level of pretend play and verbal intelligence. In a second session 1 week later, children were given a series of theory of mind tasks, including measures of appearance-reality, false belief, representational change, and perspective taking. The theory of mind tasks were significantly intercorrelated with the effects of verbal intelligence and age statistically controlled. Individual differences in fantasy/pretense were assessed by (1) identifying children who created imaginary characters, and (2) extracting factor scores from a combination of interview and behavioral measures. Each of these fantasy assessments was significantly related to the theory of mind performance of the 4-year-old children, independent of verbal intelligence.
Article
The authors investigated the prevalence and characteristics of children who experience or who have experienced imaginary companions. For the study, a self-administered questionnaire that sought information regarding the characteristics of children with and without imaginary companions was completed by 478 parents of children within the age range of 3 to 9.5 years. A significantly larger number of children with imaginary companions were reported to be first-born children, to be very imaginative, to incorporate myth in their play, and to explain events as magical. Overall, these results are interpreted to indicate that birth order, combined with characteristics such as imaginativeness and a predisposition to engage in fantasy, characterizes children with imaginary companions.
Article
Approximately 1800 children between the ages of 5 and 12 years were randomly selected and asked whether they had present or past experiences of imaginary companions. It was found that 829 (46.2%) children reported experiences of imaginary companions. These findings were unexpected as previous studies had suggested that imaginary companions are generally experienced by fewer, much younger children. There were no significant differences in creativity scores between children who reported imaginary companions compared with those who did not. Imaginary companions were reported by more girls than boys, and were not restricted to very young children.
Article
A number of studies have noted that dissociative symptoms (e.g., feelings of derealization, depersonalization, memory complaints, absorption) overlap with the tendency to report psychotic-like experiences (i.e., schizotypy). The question arises as to what may account for the shared variance between dissociation and schizotypy. The present study investigated whether fantasy proneness, cognitive failures, and childhood trauma may jointly explain the dissociation-schizotypy link. To this end, we administered the Dissociative Experiences Scale, the Schizotypal Personality Scale, the Creative Experiences Questionnaire, the Cognitive Failures Questionnaire, and the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire to a sample of undergraduates (N = 185). Fantasy proneness, cognitive failures, and childhood trauma together explained substantial part (58%) of the dissociation-schizotypy link. The present study succeeded in explaining a considerate part of the shared variance between dissociation and schizotypy.
Article
The present study investigated the referential communication skills of children with imaginary companions (ICs). Twenty-two children with ICs aged between 4 and 6 years were compared to 22 children without ICs (NICs). The children were matched for age, gender, birth order, number of siblings, and parental education. All children completed the Test of Referential Communication (Camaioni, Ercolani & Lloyd, 1995). The results showed that the children with ICs performed better than the children without ICs on the speaker component of the task. In particular, the IC children were better able to identify a specific referent to their interlocutor than were the NIC children. Furthermore, the IC children described less redundant features of the target picture than did the NIC children. The children did not differ in the listening comprehension component of the task. Overall, the results suggest that the IC children had a better understanding of their interlocutor's information requirements in conversation. The role of pretend play in the development of communicative competence is discussed in light of these results.
Note on structure and meaning of the MPQ Absorption Scale. Unpublished manuscript
  • A Tellegen
Tellegen, A. (1992) Note on structure and meaning of the MPQ Absorption Scale. Unpublished manuscript, Univer. of Minnesota, Minneapolis.
Why dissociation and schizotypy overlap: the joint influence of fantasy proneness, cognitive failures, and childhood trauma
  • T Giesbrecht
  • H Merckelbach
  • M Kater
  • A Sluis
Giesbrecht, T., Merckelbach, H., Kater, M., & Sluis, A. (2007) Why dissociation and schizotypy overlap: the joint influence of fantasy proneness, cognitive failures, and childhood trauma. Journal of Mental and Nervous Disease, 195, 812-818.
Imaginary playmates and other useful fantasies
  • J Partington
  • C Grant
Partington, J., & Grant, C. (1984) Imaginary playmates and other useful fantasies. In P. Smith (Ed.), Play in animals and humans. New York: Basil Blackwell. Pp. 217-240.