16- to 18-month-old’s Ability to Discern Fantasy and Reality
Authors:Christian Astorga, Kalynn Haynes, Daniella Huczneker, Jenna Palisoc
Mentor:Nathalie Carrick, Assistant Professor, Ph.D., Child and Adolescent Studies, California State University Fullerton
16- to 18-month-old’s Ability to Discern Fantasy and Reality Authors: Kalynn Haynes, Daniella Huczneker, Jenna Palisoc, Christian Astorga, California State University Fullerton Mentor: Nathalie Carrick, Ph.D., Child and Adolescent Studies, California State University Fullerton Research on children’s ability to distinguish fantasy from reality has focused almost exclusively on children starting at three years of age. However, children at a much younger age are exposed to fantastic information such as fictional information depicted in storybooks. Research has not yet examined at what age young children’s understanding of fantastic versus real information first emerges. This study examines whether 16- and 18-month-olds (n=10) recognize the difference between a storybook character that is engaged in fantastic (i.e. dog eating at table with fork and knife) versus real events (i.e. dog eating from bowl). Specifically, the toddlers engaged in a habituation task in which they viewed a series of the dog engaged in real events and then, once habituated to those events, were presented with the dog in the fantastic event. Toddlers looking times were calculated to test whether they looked longer at the fantastic events, indicating they recognized a difference between the two types of events. Although data collection is ongoing, preliminary findings suggest that infants look longer at fantastic images (m=30.43 seconds) rather than realistic images (m=20.88 seconds), which supports that they acknowledge a difference between fantasy and reality. This information suggests that fantasy-reality distinctions may emerge early in children. These findings are helpful for future studies that examine how young children use fantastic information in their daily lives (e.g., can they learn information from fantasy).