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Title: The influence of availability, affect and empirical evidence on individual differences in children's understanding of pretence
Author: Bourchier, Alison Jane
ISNI:       0000 0001 3472 2851
Awarding Body: University of Surrey
Current Institution: University of Surrey
Date of Award: 1998
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This research focused on the issue of children's understanding of the pretend-reality distinction. In particular, it investigated several features of the availability hypothesis (Harris, Brown, Marriott, Whittall & Harmer, 1991; Johnson & Harris, 1994) and the pretence continuation account (Golomb & Galasso, 1995) which have been previously offered as competing explanations for children's behaviours during pretence. Specifically, the experiments reported here explored the role of differing forms of affect in both of these accounts and assessed the constraining influence of empirical evidence of reality on the effects of increased cognitive availability. To this end, a series of seven related experiments were conducted in which four to seven year old children (N = 591) were asked to pretend about the contents of empty boxes. The children's behaviours on a series of box selection tasks were then observed under conditions of differing affect and varying levels of empirical evidence (experiments 1 to 5). The children's spontaneous behaviours were also video recorded (experiments 6 and 7). Taken together, the results suggest that there are interactions between individual differences, age, affect and levels of empirical evidence which predict children's propensity towards making pretend-reality confusions. In relation to previous explanations of children's behaviour, the pretence continuation account (Golomb & Galasso, 1995) is unable to explain the complexity of the current findings and the results are instead more consistent with an account involving individual differences such as that proposed by Johnson and Harris (1994). However, there are two crucial contributions which the experiments reported here can make to these explanations. First, there are developmental changes which take place between four and seven years of age in relation to pretend-reality understanding and these changes interact with the individual differences identified by Johnson and Harris (1994). Second, the present data provide evidence of the central role played by affect in children's pretence. Overall, this thesis offers an account of children's understanding of the distinction between pretence and reality which incorporates both developmental and individual differences.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Children's imagination