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Department of Psychology


Publication details for Professor Charles Fernyhough

Firth, L., Alderson-Day, B., Woods, N. & Fernyhough, C. (2015). Imaginary companions in childhood: Relations to imagination skills and autobiographical memory in adults. Creativity Research Journal 27(4): 308-313.

Author(s) from Durham


The presence of a childhood imaginary companion (IC) has been proposed to reflect heightened imaginative abilities. This study hypothesized that adults who reported having a childhood IC would score higher on a task requiring the imaginative construction of visual scenes. Additionally, it was proposed that individuals who produced more vivid and detailed scenes would also report richer autobiographical memories, due to a shared reliance on imaginative abilities in construction and recollection. Sixty participants (20 with an IC), completed an adapted scene construction procedure and an autobiographical memory questionnaire. Participants reporting a childhood IC scored significantly higher on scene construction and rated themselves as more imaginative. Scene construction scores were also moderately related to the richness of autobiographical memories, although this was almost entirely due to scores on the thought/emotion/action component of scene construction. Autobiographical memory was unrelated to the presence of an IC. Implications for overlapping and dissociable aspects of imagination and memory are discussed.