• Imaginary friends and imaginary companions
are a psychological and social phenomenon
where a friendship or other interpersonal
relationship takes place in the imagination
rather than external physical reality.
• Imaginary friends are fictional characters
created for improvisational role-playing.
• Although they may seem very real to their
creators, children usually understand that their
imaginary friends are not real.
• Imaginary friends are made often in
childhood, sometimes in adolescence, and
rarely in adulthood.
• They reveal, according to several theories of
psychology, a child's anxieties, fears, goals and
perceptions of the world through that child's
• They are, according to some children,
physically indistinguishable from real people.
• While others say they see their imaginary
friends only in their heads, and still others
cannot see the friend at all but can sense
• Imaginary friends are more often seen as
abnormal in adults, whereas quite common in
• Few adults report having imaginary friends;
however, as Eileen Kennedy-Moore points out,
"Adult fiction writers often talk about their
characters taking on a life of their own, which
may be an analogous process to children’s
• In addition, Marjorie Taylor and colleagues
have found that :
Fiction writers are more likely than average to
have had imaginary companions as children.
• It has been theorized that children with
imaginary companions may develop language
skills and retain knowledge faster than
children without them, which may be because
these children get more linguistic practice than
their peers as a result of carrying out
"conversations" with their imaginary friends.
• Kutner (n.d.) reported that 65% of seven-year
old children report they have had an
imaginary companion at some point in their
• Kutner further reported that imaginary
companions are an integral part of many
• They provide
1. Comfort in times of stress.
2. Companionship when they're lonely.
3. Someone to blame for the broken lamp in the
• Most important, an imaginary companion is a
tool young children use to help them make
sense of the adult world.
• Some psychologists have suggested that older
children may retain but stop speaking about
imaginary friends due to adult expectations
and peer pressure.
• Pediatrician Benjamin Spock believed that
imaginary friends past age four indicated that
something was "lacking" in the child or his
• Some child development professionals believe
that the presence of imaginary friends past
early childhood signals a serious psychiatric
• Some have theorized that children who hold on
to imaginary friends past school-age are
• Other professionals feel that imaginary friends
are common among school-age children and
are part of normal social-cognitive
• Marjorie Taylor identified middle school
children with imaginary friends and followed up
six years later as they were completing high
• At follow-up, those who had imaginary friends in
middle school displayed better coping strategies
but a "low social preference for peers."
• She suggested that imaginary friends may directly
benefit children's resiliency and positive