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Children's Ability To Differentiate Between Real And Fantastical Entities

1444 words - 6 pages

In the field of developmental psychology, children have become a popular interest. By studying such changes children go through in the early stages of childhood, researchers provide better knowledge and insight on how these changes influence the actions and behaviors of children. It has been identified by many that during these stages, children have rapid mental and cognitive development. Likewise, during this time children are thought to easily confuse reality and fantasy. This paper will consist of two reviews involving two different studies which assesses the children's ability to differentiate between fantasy and reality. One will determine how fantasy/reality distinction evolves with age, while the other investigates children's perception of storybook entities. Both focus on children's ability to categorize specified objects/people/events.
Article One - Purpose, Hypothesis & Goal of Study
It is believed that a basic component of human cognitive skills is the ability to differentiate between reality and fantasy. Traditionally, children were assumed to confuse the boundaries between them. Yet, previous research has shown that three year olds are able to make reality/non-reality distinctions. The first article, published in 2004 describes a study performed by Sharon & Woolley. They hoped to provide a new viewpoint at a preschooler's level of fantasy/reality differentiation. They believed that children have a better understanding of these boundaries than most people assume. Believing that children have an understanding of what is "human" and what is not, which they use to determine whether entities are real or fantastical. The main goal of their study was to show this possibility, by exploring what children associate as human properties (physical, biological, social and mental). They also wanted to assess how children categorize entities as "real" or "pretend", and determine the potential role of individual differences in children's ability to differentiate between reality and fantasy.
Article One - Methodology, Procedure & Results
Sharon & Woolley (2004) conducted a cross-sectional study composed of sixty-four preschoolers (three to five year olds). Most attended a childcare center affiliated with a large university. The testing consisted of two separate 25 min sessions where children were first given a properties task. In which their recognition of real and fantastical entities were assessed by being given colored drawings of them. Next, a categorization task, where they had to sort real and fantastical entities into either being "real", "pretend" and "I don’t know". Lastly a fantasy orientation assessment was conducted, via an impersonation habits and imaginary companion interview. All the children received the same materials and questions during the testing (independent variable), but in random order. In each task, children were scored according to the amount of right/wrong answers, while in interviews scores...

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