Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Education (MSEd)


Education and Human Development


The purpose of this study was to examine the responses of preschool teachers toward students with imaginary companions, in particular, their reactions to situations involving imaginary companions in the classroom settings.

Past research has focused on reflections of individuals who have had imaginary companions in childhood. Professional attitudes toward these children have ranged from very positive to suggestive of mental illness, requiring treatment.

The subjects were 27 female preschool teachers currently teaching nursery school in the western New York region. Eight hypothetical imaginary companion scenarios were devised. Each scenario was comprised of three to five short sentences. Subjects responded to each scenario in a free-response written format. They were instructed to respond to the situations presented as they would in their own classroom. All responses were then analyzed for overall feeling tone/theme. Eight themes were found to be present in the responses. These themes were: Responsible/”correct” behavior; Diversion/socialization; Extension/school activities; Praise, acknowledgment; Questioning/child/parent/”friend”; Sarcasm/rude comments/derision; Acceptance/ignore behavior; and Don't know.

Responses elicited revealed no definitive across-case approach to imaginary companion behavior in the preschool classroom. There were definitive response patterns/themes found within cases. Each student's case was unique and specific, individualized responses were given by subjects to each scenario. Teaching implications suggested the need to treat children with imaginary companions with respect and encourage the positive aspects of such behavior. Female students in particular tended to be treated not as creative, but dependent and in need of “weaning” from the imaginary companion. Future research in real classroom settings would help determine whether stated responses are reflective of actual teacher actions. Other possible research would include cross-cultural studies and interviewing of adults who presently have imaginary companions.