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Adult report of imaginary companion play in childhood and its relation to concurrent prodromal symptom report

Davis, Paige E., Webster, Lisa, Stain, Helen and Kola-Palmer, Susanna (2018) Adult report of imaginary companion play in childhood and its relation to concurrent prodromal symptom report. In: Personification Across Disciplines, 17-19th September, 2018, Durham, England. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

Imaginary companion (IC) play in childhood is considered a positive normative experience. This play
can be with an entirely invisible companion (iIC) or a doll or toy to which the child ascribes a mind
and is personified in an object (PO). Both types of IC play have been argued to be a form of nonpathological
hallucination-like experience because they involve interacting with a being in the absence
of the appropriate stimulus while maintaining the full force of a real stimulus. However iIC play could
involve deeper hallucination-like experiences as it involves both hearing and seeing an invisible entity.
Having these hallucination-like experiences in childhood may translate to being more prone to similar
experiences in adulthood, much like those reported in prodromal individuals. This study aimed to explore
whether the report of an IC in childhood predicted scores on the Prodromal Questionaire-16, taking into
account childhood abuse in a population of 372 (261 Females) university students between the ages of
18 and 71 years (M = 23.83, SD = 7.90). A poisson regression indicated that adults with childhood ICs
were in fact more likely to score higher on the prodromal questionnaire than those with no childhood ICs,
p = .001, however when separating iIC and PO play groups, it became apparent that the significance
was a result of the elevated PO rather than iIC scores. Students with iICs did not differ significantly from
PO or no imaginary companion groups in their prodromal scores. Furthermore, even though childhood
abuse experience also predicted higher scores on the scale, high abuse reporters were less likely to
be those with ICs. Results will be discussed with reference to normative hallucination-like experience,
as well as personified play and the difference in a child’s subjective experience of iICs and POs. The
research featured in this paper has been conducted in collaboration with Lisa A. D. Webster (Leeds Trinity
University), Helen J. Stain (Leeds Trinity University) and Susanna Kola-Palmer (University of Huddersfield).

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Status: Unpublished
Related URLs:
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology > BF309-499 Consciousness. Cognition. Memory
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology > BF712-724.85 Developmental psychology
School/Department: School of Psychological & Social Sciences
URI: http://ray.yorksj.ac.uk/id/eprint/3470

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