What does Batman think about Sponge Bob? Children’s understanding of the fantasy/fantasy distinction
Young children reliably distinguish reality from fantasy; they know that their friends are real and that Batman is not. But it is an open question whether they appreciate, as adults do, that there are multiple fantasy worlds. We test this by asking children and adults about ﬁctional characters’ beliefs about other characters who exist either within the same world (e.g., Batman and Robin) or in different worlds (e.g., Batman and SpongeBob). Study 1 found that although both adults and young children distinguish between within-world and across-world types of character relationships, the children make an unexpected mistake: they often claim that Batman thinks that Robin is make believe. Study 2 used a less explicit task, exploring intuitions about the actions of characters—whom they could see, touch, and talk to—and found that children show a mature appreciation of the ontology of ﬁctional worlds.
For the really curios ones, the original article is here. Although I'm not sure whether you can access that without a McGill VPN access.
OMG! What awesome research do these guys do? And: Where can I fill out an application?!?