Davis, Paige E., Meins, Elizabeth and Fernyhough, Charles (2014) Children with Imaginary Companions Focus on Mental Characteristics When Describing Their Real-Life Friends. Infant and Child Development, 23 (6). pp. 622-633. ISSN 1522-7227

Relations between having an imaginary companion (IC) and (i) descriptions
of a real-life friend, (ii) theory of mind performance, and
(iii) reported prosocial behaviour and behavioural difficulties were investigated
in a sample of 5-year-olds (N= 159). Children who had an IC
were more likely than their peers without an IC to describe their best
friends with reference to their mental characteristics, but IC status
was unrelated to children’s theory of mind performance and reported
prosocial behaviour and behavioural difficulties. These findings are
discussed in the context of the proposal that there is a competence–
performance gap in children’s mentalizing abilities.

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