See Inside June/July 2006

SpongeBob vs. Batman

The ability to distinguish multiple fantasy worlds may be an innate skill. “Children’s metaphysical reasoning is much more complicated than previously thought,” says Deena Skolnick, a doctoral candidate in psychology at Yale University.

In a recent study entitled “What Does Batman Think about SpongeBob?” Skolnick and Yale psychology professor Paul Bloom asked 24 adults and 24 children ages four to six questions about familiar fictional characters. For example: Is Batman real? Does Batman think Robin is real? Does Batman think Nemo is real? (For those playing at home, the popular answers kids gave were no, yes, no.) In most cases, the youngsters’ responses closely matched the adults’. Notably, the kid crusaders did not simply place all make-believe characters in one universe.

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