Autonomy and Control in Children’s Interactions with Imaginary Companions


in Imaginative Minds

Published by British Academy

Published in print December 2007 | ISBN: 9780197264195
Published online February 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191734540 | DOI:

Series: Proceedings of the British Academy

Autonomy and Control in Children’s Interactions with Imaginary Companions

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  • Cognitive Psychology


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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.

Keywords: children; role play; imaginary companions; social development; cognitive development; negative imaginary companions; automatic processes; controlled processes; inhibitory play; pretend play

Chapter.  8335 words. 

Subjects: Cognitive Psychology

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