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The Development of Thinking and Reasoning by Caroline Gauffroy, Pierre Barrouillet

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3The development of the rational imagination

How children create counterfactual alternatives to reality

Julie E. Meehan and Ruth M. J. Byrne

Introduction

Many of us enjoyed a rich imaginative life when we were children, chatting with a teddy bear or sailing around the kitchen in a box. Most of us engage in pretend play from about two years of age, perhaps to imitate real situations but also to imagine new ones, and to explore the many alternative possibilities to reality (Piaget, 1951; Riggs & Petersen, 2000). Our enjoyment of pretence as children may even be a source of our appreciation of fiction and drama as we grow older (Harris, 2000). Yet the make-believe play we engage in as children requires a quite extraordinary cognitive feat: we must ...

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