• Childhood Imaginary Companions and Their Effect on Childhood Fantasy Play Predisposition, and Shyness and Rejection Sensitivity in Adulthood

      Kirkham, Julie A.; Rafferty, Sarah (University of Chester, 2017)
      The current study was conducted to investigate the effects of having an imaginary companion in childhood on fantasy play predisposition in childhood, and shyness and rejection sensitivity in adulthood. The relationships between childhood fantasy play predisposition, and adult shyness and rejection sensitivity were also investigated. These areas have seen very little previous research in an adult population, and those conducted in childhood have shown mixed results. Various studies have previously shown that children with an imaginary companion are more likely to show a predisposition toward fantasy play, though this has not been investigated recently. A sample of 64 participants were asked about recalled imaginary companions, and completed self-report measures of childhood fantasy play predisposition, and adulthood shyness and rejection sensitivity. Participants who recalled having an imaginary companion in childhood showed significantly higher scores than those who did not on the fantasy play scale, but participant groups did not differ significantly in terms of shyness or rejection sensitivity. Adult shyness and rejection sensitivity were found to have a significant predictive relationship, though childhood fantasy play did not significantly predict adult shyness nor rejection sensitivity. The results from this study suggest that childhood imaginary companions do not have an effect over time from childhood to adulthood on shyness and rejection sensitivity, but that future research is necessary to add to the knowledge base in this area. Additionally, shyness and rejection sensitivity may be changing constructs over time, but continue to share a relationship into adulthood.