|AUTHORS:||Woolley, J.D., Boerger, E.A., & Markman, A.B.|
Headline: 3-7 year old children’s short-term belief in the fantastical Candy Witch was predicted by an interaction of age, existing belief in fantastical figures and firsthand experience of the Candy Witch. Age was an important predictor for long-term belief.
Fifty-three per cent of children believed in the Candy Witch on all measures (stable belief), 42% changed their belief across measures (wavering belief), and 5% said she was not real on all first-year measures (stable disbelief). At their 1-year follow-up interview older stable belief children were more likely to make real judgements than wavering belief children, however, overall, older and younger children were equally likely to describe the Candy Witch as real.
77 children aged between 3 and 7 participated. Two weeks prior to Halloween children were introduced to the Candy Witch (a novel entity) in two classroom activities. Parents opted in or out of the option of simulating a visit from the Candy Witch on Halloween night. During the introduction, the researcher implicitly suggested that several adults know of the Candy Witch – in a similar vein to the perpetuation of the fantasy of Santa Claus. Children were interviewed three times (two immediate interviews and a third 1 year on) about whether the Candy Witch existed. They also completed the Reality Status Questionnaire and three other fantasy orientation tasks.