A new study has found that children become better communicators and more creative with the help of imaginary friends. A la Calvin and Hobbes, maybe!
According to psychologist Evan Kidd from Melbourne's La Trobe University, kids learn the complexities of spoken expression sooner with an imaginary pal's help.
To reach the conclusion, Kidd studied 22 children, aged four to six years, who all had imaginary companions and compared their communication skills with an equivalent group who had no imaginary friends.
The children were asked to describe a picture in a test designed to gauge their ability to take the viewpoints of others into consideration
"The kids with imaginary companions had better conversation skills," Kidd said.
"They are better able to get their point across when talking to an adult," the expert added.
Kidd said children were "testing out hypotheses about the world" while interacting with an imaginary friend, and they gained communication skills by "having one side of the conversation but also inventing their imaginary friend's side of the conversation".
The research was presented at Fresh Science, being held at Melbourne Museum this week.