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PLoS By Category | Recent PLoS Articles
Mental Health - Neuroscience - Pediatrics and Child Health

My Neighbor: Children’s Perception of Agency in Interaction with an Imaginary Agent
Published: Friday, September 07, 2012
Author: Yusuke Moriguchi et al.

by Yusuke Moriguchi, Ikuko Shinohara

Children may treat an invisible entity as a live and thinking entity, known as an imaginary companion (IC). Some researchers suggest that this is simply pretend play, but it is possible that children experience agency in their interactions with ICs. Given the literature on cognitive science and social brain research, we hypothesize that young children may have an agent-perception system that responds to an invisible agent by which they may experience realistic agency in their interactions with ICs. In this study, children were introduced to an invisible agent and an invisible stone. However, they assigned biological and psychological properties to the agent but not the stone. The tendency of assigning such properties was stronger in children with ICs than in those without ICs. These results contribute to our understanding of cognitive and neural development in typical and atypical children.
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