Parasocial interactions (PSI; one-sided communication imagined with a media figure) in adolescence and imaginative activities in childhood, such as imaginary companions and role play, have a shared foundation in that both use imagination for social purposes. This commonality in both cognitive processes and social uses begs the question of whether they are related phenomena. We examined PSI’s connection to retrospective reports of childhood imaginative activities in the context of the social environment, including relationship functioning (attachment style, social support) and well-being (self-esteem, depressive symptoms), in 151 adolescents (Mage = 14.8 years). PSI and reports of childhood imagination were unrelated to each other and differentially related to the social environment, suggesting that each form of social imagination relates to the developmental task it addresses rather than to individual differences in predilection for fantasy or social functioning.
Gleason, Tracy R.; Theran, Sally A.; and Newberg, Emily M., "Connections between Adolescents’ Parasocial Interactions and Recollections of Childhood Imaginative Activities" (2019). Faculty Research and Scholarship. 187.