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date: 14 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines the ways in which young children use narrative to construct and explore different types of psychological reality. Heinz Werner's conceptualization of the child's construction of spheres of reality, within which actions, symbols, and events are construed in particular ways, is used as a theoretical framework. Examples are presented that show how children not only alternate between a pragmatic stance toward the world (e.g., eating or cleaning up) and an "as if" stance, in which the pragmatic world is explored through play, but also between a play sphere in which the real world is simulated (what is) and a play sphere in which non-real possibilities are articulated (what if). Close descriptions of children at play in natural settings as well as stories told in everyday situations are used to show how children oscillate between these different spheres. The chapter argues that examining play and stories as they unfold is essential to fully understanding what is going on psychologically when a child imagines alternate realities.

Keywords: as-if, construction, fantasy, narrative, reality, story, what-if, what-is

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