Given their outlandish names and traits, imaginary companions might be dismissed as nostalgic relics of our ephemeral youth. But research by psychologists has revealed that imaginary companions can provide glimpses into the development of critical creative, social, and cognitive skills of children.
In the third episode of The Real Guide to Imaginary Companions, we’ll see how developmental psychologist Tracy Gleason uses imaginary companions to study how children form relationships. We’ll also learn how developmental psychologist Stephanie Carlson tests the role of pretend play, such as creating an imaginary companion, in a child’s ability to exercise self-control.
Produced by Science Friday with generous support from the John Templeton Foundation
Produced, directed, and narrated by Luke Groskin
Filmed by Katie Graham, Luke Groskin and Patrick Pelham
Edited by Erika Sutter
Animations by Gabe Darling and Candice Aquino
Music by Audio Network
“Fairy Godmother” voiced by Annie Nero
Additional footage provided by
Carlson Lab Experiment Footage Courtesy of Mind in the Making, Bezos Family Foundation.