While most children believe in Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny at some point, researchers are now starting to discover that children’s fantasy worlds are more subtle than previously suspected, and may even last into adulthood.
An in-depth article from Science News Online examines a child’s understanding of fantasy characters and how imagination is being used to help children cope with traumatic and painful medical procedures.
One surprising finding is that although one third of 7-year olds seem to have imaginary friends, similar experiences can last into adulthood. Some professions may even rely on this experience to help their work.
Psychologist Marjorie Taylor interviewed 50 fiction writers ranging from an award-winning novelist to scribblers who had never been published. Of those authors, 46 provided vivid examples of made-up characters who had taken over the job of composing their life stories and who sometimes resisted their creators’ attempts to control the narrative. Some fictional folk wandered around in the writers’ houses or otherwise inhabited their everyday world.