Invisible friends across four countries: Kenya, Malawi, Nepal and the Dominican Republic

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Abstract

Cross-cultural comparisons of the prevalence of invisible/imaginary companions are difficult due to the use of various methods of data gathering and the lack of sampling in developing countries. The present study took place among 443 children (3–8-year-olds) in four different countries (Kenya, Malawi, Nepal and the Dominican Republic) employing the same interview method. Among all the children 21% affirmed that they had invisible/imaginary companions at the time of the interview. But the rates between countries varied significantly from a low of 5% in Nepal to a high of 34% in the Dominican Republic. The results suggest that the potential for the phenomenon transcends cultural particularity even as culture plays an important role for supporting or discouraging invisible/imaginary companions.

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