Davis, Paige E., Meins, Elizabeth and Fernyhough, Charles (2013) Individual differences in children’s private speech: the role of imaginary companions. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 116 (3). pp. 561-571. ISSN 00220965

Relations between children’s imaginary companion status and
their engagement in private speech during free play were investigated
in a socially diverse sample of 5-year-olds (N = 148). Controlling
for socioeconomic status, receptive verbal ability, total number
of utterances, and duration of observation, there was a main effect
of imaginary companion status on type of private speech. Children
who had imaginary companions were more likely to engage in covert
private speech compared with their peers who did not have
imaginary companions. These results suggest that the private
speech of children with imaginary companions is more internalized
than that of their peers who do not have imaginary companions
and that social engagement with imaginary beings may
fulfill a similar role to social engagement with real-life partners
in the developmental progression of private speech.

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