“Fantasy and reality distinction in children”

Sarah Hohl and Dr. Justin Couchman, Department of Psychology, Albright College, 1621 N. 13th Street, Reading PA 19604

According to Vygotsky (2004), the brain utilizes elements of previous experiences to generate new thoughts and ideas and this reproduction of experiences has been termed “imagination” or “fantasy” in psychology. Play represents the most authentic and truest creativity because it is a combination of what they have experienced, a reworking of those experiences, and generating new ideas based on those experiences. Imagination itself is an abstract concept not easily defined, especially in children. It is a concept that cannot be seen or directly taught to children, but it is extremely common for adults to teach it indirectly (e.g., “go play with your toys”). This activity involves the imagination and the child’s ability to simulate a world inside their own mind. By making an inanimate object “come to life” during play for a child, they are developing their imagination. Is it through mirroring behaviors, undiscovered cognitive abilities, or some combination that allows children to play with and without toys and be satisfied with the “world” they have “created”? This study examined the ability of young children to distinguish fantasy from reality and a possible method to explain imagination to children. We tested 29 children on their ability to understand real versus imaginary objects using a categorization task with recognizable pictures for their age group. We also utilized a pre-test and post-test design with an intervention and attempted to improve their understanding with the short intervention. Results supported previous findings showing that younger children have a harder time understanding real and imaginary. There was an effect of age for pre-intervention performance and post-intervention performance by age for three-year-old and four-year-old children, F(1, 20) = 4.857, p < 0.05. Another significant effect of age occurred for pre-intervention imaginary versus pre-intervention real performance, F(1, 20) =6.253, p < 0.05 η2 = 0.238.

Additional Abstract Information

Presenter: Sarah Hohl

Institution: Albright College

Type: Poster

Subject: Psychology

Status: Approved

Time and Location

Session: Poster 10
Date/Time: Wed 1:30pm-2:30pm
Session Number: 6655