The Power of Make-Believe

Parents may worry about a child's imaginary friends, but a new study finds much to love about them

It's not likely to win and oscars, but the new Robert De Niro thriller, Hide and Seek, which revolves arounda little girl's obsession with an imaginary friend named Charlie, taps into something quite real: the confusion and fear parents experience when their children start paying more attention to made-up companions than flesh-and-blood friends. Are kids who do so lonely or crazy or crying for help?

In most cases none of the above, says psychologist Marjorie Taylor of the University of Oregon, who with her colleague Stephanie Carlson at the University of Washington has conducted a study of kids and their fictional...

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