Interview with Alison Bourchier

Was there a scary monster under your bed? Did you have an imaginary friend when you were growing up? Angus Smyth spoke to Alison Bourchier about children’s understanding of pretence and reality.
‘As a child I had an imaginary friend,’ Alison told me, ‘and I remember being completely terrified of the scary monsters I imagined were hiding beneath my bed.’ Common occurrences for many children, but Alison assures me that ‘children get great pleasure from their pretend play’. Evidence suggests that children understand a great deal about pretence and how pretend entities differ from real ones. Children as young as three understand this: a real entity can be seen and touched by themselves and others and will continue to exist even when it is not being thought about.

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