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Concept: Imagination


One of the deficits observed in autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is impaired imaginative play. One form of imaginative play common in many typically developing (TD) children is having an imaginary companion (IC). The occurrence of ICs has not been investigated extensively in children with ASD. We examined differences in parent report of IC between TD and ASD populations in 215 (111 with ASD) gender-matched children aged between 2 and 8 years. Findings indicate that significantly fewer children with ASD created ICs, although there were many between-group similarities in IC forms and functions. Results are discussed in terms of qualitative differences in play, social attributions, and how children with ASD conceptualize their ICs' minds.

Concepts: Cognition, Autism, Pervasive developmental disorder, Idea, Asperger syndrome, Autism spectrum, PDD-NOS, Imagination


Social relationships and interactions contribute to daily emotional well-being. The emotional benefits that come from engaging with others are known to arise from real events, but do they also come from the imagination during daydreaming activity? Using experience sampling methodology with 101 participants, we obtained 371 reports of naturally occurring daydreams with social and non-social content and self-reported feelings before and after daydreaming. Social, but not non-social, daydreams were associated with increased happiness, love and connection and this effect was not solely attributable to the emotional content of the daydreams. These effects were only present when participants were lacking in these feelings before daydreaming and when the daydream involved imagining others with whom the daydreamer had a high quality relationship. Findings are consistent with the idea that social daydreams may function to regulate emotion: imagining close others may serve the current emotional needs of daydreamers by increasing positive feelings towards themselves and others.

Concepts: Abstraction, Imagination, Daydream


People are known to engage in behaviours aimed at replenishing social connectedness after their sense of belonging is threatened. We explored whether the mental strategy of daydreaming about significant others could have similar effects by acting as an imaginary substitute when loved ones are unavailable. Following a loneliness induction, participants (N = 126) were asked to either daydream about a significant other, daydream about a non-social scenario or complete a control task. Social daydreamers showed significantly increased feelings of connection, love and belonging compared to non-social daydreamers and control participants. Consistent with the proposition that social daydreaming replenished connectedness, social daydreamers also behaved more pro-socially and expressed less of a desire to interact with others after daydreaming. These findings demonstrate that through imagination, social daydreaming can replenish connectedness providing a potential strategy for enhancing socio-emotional well-being.

Concepts: Abstraction, Significant Other, Replenishment, C-41 process, E-6 process, Imagination, Daydream, Photographic processes


Psychologists have long hypothesized that daydreaming (i.e., engaging in stimulus-independent, task-unrelated thoughts and images) may facilitate creativity, but evidence for this hypothesis has been mixed. We propose that, to fully understand the relationship between daydreaming and creativity, it is essential to distinguish between different creative processes as well as between alternative styles of daydreaming. A prominent distinction in creativity research is that between analytic problem solving, which involves incremental and largely conscious processes, and insight, which is characterized by the spontaneity with which an idea springs to mind. In this aspect, insight resembles daydreaming. Indeed, recent evidence has linked daydreaming to creative performance. But like creativity, daydreaming is a multifaceted concept. Daydreams vary in style and content, a fact that is receiving little attention in contemporary research. Not all kinds of daydreaming are likely to have the same effects on creativity. We discuss different factors prevalent in people’s daydreaming, such as mood, attentional focus, and intentionality, and consider how these factors may be related to creative processes. We further discuss implications for ways to enhance creativity through deliberate daydreaming practice.

Concepts: Psychology, Philosophy of mind, Mind, Idea, Problem solving, Abstraction, Creativity, Imagination


Research has been inconsistent in its quest to discover whether dispositional creativity is associated with more or less unethical behavior. Drawing on social cognitive theory, we propose that moral disengagement and moral imagination are 2 parallel mechanisms that encourage or inhibit unethical behavior, and that which of these mediation processes occur depends on moral identity. Study 1, a 3-wave study of a food service organization, shows that employees high on both dispositional creativity and moral identity are less likely to be morally disengaged and behave less unethically. The results of Study 2 replicate Study 1’s findings in a scenario-based study of college students, and further show that individuals who are high on both dispositional creativity and moral identity are more likely to be morally imaginative and to behave less unethically. Theoretical and practical implications of our model are discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record

Concepts: Psychology, Cognition, Educational psychology, Mind, Ethics, Morality, Creativity, Imagination


This article proposes expanding four existing criteria for imaginative play in view of recent advances in sociocultural perspectives on the study of human development. Imaginative play is commonly defined as intrinsically motivated, open ended, pleasure seeking, and an escape from reality. Grounded in sociocultural research, and, as such, in the relation between individual and social and cultural environment, we argue that these four criteria should shift from assumptions to research questions: What are the motives for imaginative play? What are the goals for imaginative play? What affective dimensions emerge in imaginative play? What, how, and why do features of reality and imagination emerge through play? Expanding definitional criteria in this fashion enables researchers to remain open to variations in an individual’s experience over time, across participants, and cultural variations rather than imposing dominant cultural assumptions as explanatory heuristics. Implications for research and education are discussed.

Concepts: Scientific method, Psychology, Research, Mind, Motivation, Research and development, Hedonism, Imagination


The prevalence and clinical significance of hallucinatory experiences among children below 7¬†years of age remain unknown. We aimed to determine the independent influences of sensory deficits, the presence of an imaginary companion and metacognition on hallucinatory experiences. We assumed that hallucinatory experiences were associated with (a) sensory deficits, (b) the presence of an imaginary companion (IC) and © metacognition defaults (i.e. first- and second-order theory of mind default).

Concepts: Cognitive science, Imagination


This article reports the construction and validation of a comprehensive self-report measure of fantasy. Unlike previous measures of fantasy, which focus on psychopathology, we conceive fantasy as a trait with positive connotation. Principal component analysis (N = 318) and confirmatory factor analyses (N = 345) were conducted using 2 sociodemographically diverse samples. The results provided support for a 2-factor conceptualization of the construct, with the dimensions imaginative fantasy and creative fantasy. Imaginative fantasy refers to vivid imagination and absorption in these images and daydreams. Creative fantasy refers to the activity of using fantasy to create new ideas. The trait measure showed good internal consistency, test-retest reliability, discriminant and convergent construct validity, as well as incremental validity. Moreover, in 3 behavioral studies, we put fantasy scores in relationship with behavioral data to provide further proof of validity. A comprehensive measure of fantasy can contribute to our understanding of individual differences in inner experiences, creative processes, and problem solving.

Concepts: Psychology, Psychometrics, Factor analysis, Principal component analysis, Idea, Reliability, Creativity, Imagination


Autobiographical memories of past events and imaginations of future scenarios comprise both episodic and semantic content. Correlating the amount of “internal” (episodic) and “external” (semantic) details generated when describing autobiographical events can illuminate the relationship between the processes supporting these constructs. Yet previous studies performing such correlations were limited by aggregating data across all events generated by an individual, potentially obscuring the underlying relationship within the events themselves. In the current article, we reanalyzed datasets from eight studies using a multilevel approach, allowing us to explore the relationship between internal and external details within events. We also examined whether this relationship changes with healthy aging. Our reanalyses demonstrated a largely negative relationship between the internal and external details produced when describing autobiographical memories and future imaginations. This negative relationship was stronger and more consistent for older adults and was evident both in direct and indirect measures of semantic content. Moreover, this relationship appears to be specific to episodic tasks, as no relationship was observed for a nonepisodic picture description task. This negative association suggests that people do not generate semantic information indiscriminately, but do so in a compensatory manner, to embellish episodically impoverished events. Our reanalysis further lends support for dissociable processes underpinning episodic and semantic information generation when remembering and imagining autobiographical events.

Concepts: Memory, Semantics, Episodic memory, Task, Semantic memory, Semantic Web, Multilevel model, Imagination


The mind-wandering state illustrates two fundamental aspects of consciousness: its generative nature, which is reflected by the stimulus-independent content of thought that occurs when our minds wander; and metacognition, the unique capacity of the mind to reflect and understand itself. Self-generated thought, which allows us to consider people and events that are not present in the immediate environment, and metacognition, allowing us to introspect and report our inner experiences, are both essential to the scientific study of mind-wandering. Nevertheless, they also inevitably lead to specific issues that mirror more general problems in the field of consciousness research. The generative nature of consciousness makes it difficult to have direct control on the phenomenon, and the act of introspecting on inner experience has the potential to influence the state itself. We illustrate how the field of mind-wandering research can overcome these problems. Its generative nature can be understood by triangulating the objective measures (such as neural function) with subjective measures of experience and it can be manipulated indirectly by varying the demands of the external environment. Furthermore, we describe candidate covert markers for the mind-wandering state, which allow the phenomenon to be observed without direct interference, minimizing the concern that instructions to introspect necessarily change conscious experience. For further resources related to this article, please visit the WIREs website.

Concepts: Cognition, Perception, Philosophy of mind, Mind, Consciousness, Artificial intelligence, Unconscious mind, Imagination