ERIC Number: ED419629
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1997-Apr
Reference Count: N/A
Invisible Friends and Personified Objects: Qualitative Differences in Relationships with Imaginary Companions.
Gleason, Tracy R.; Sebanc, Anne M.; McGinley, Jennifer; Hartup, Willard W.
Previous studies of imaginary companions consistently have found a relation between the incidence of these "fantastical friends" and children's birth order. Unsuccessful attempts to link imaginary companion formation to child characteristics may be due to researchers' treatment of these friends as a form of pretend play rather than as a distinct relationship for the child. This study investigated the relationship qualities and form of imaginary companions (invisible friends or personified objects) to potentially explain why children form these imaginary relationships. Mothers of 78 children--24 with invisible friends (IF's), 21 with personified objects (PO's), and 33 controls matched on age and gender--were interviewed. Chi-square analyses replicated the relation between incidence and birth order, that is, that children with imaginary companions were more likely to be first born or only children and to have fewer siblings than children without companions. The distinction between the two forms (IF and PO) related to different types of relationships and differences in the children's dramatic play. Findings suggest that in future research, the form the imaginary companion takes should be distinguished because IF's and PO's appear to furnish different types of relationships for the child. (HTH)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A