Yes, we are talking about continuing to have a teddy bear (or another stuffed animal) by your side when you sleep after you have become an adult. This time the Guardian has spoken to some scientists about why you should still sleep with your teddy bear. It seems there are some interesting tidbits.
For example between 60% and 70% of children in the USA and UK have an attachment object. Usually a stuffed animal or a blanket. Usually the peak attachment is around 3-years of age but it is also seen as normal to have the attchment go well into your adult life.
The scientists at Open University in Milton Keynes, UK have run a study to explore this. They showed a group of children pictures of both real animals and stuffed animals. Then they told them stories about how the real animal would react in a given situation and asked them how would the stuffed animal react in the same situation. Children that didn’t have a favorite stuffed animal said it would react like a toy. Kids that did have a favorite stuffed animal though said their stuffies will react like the real animals.
The reason for that is children are antropomorphists. This means they attach feelings and thoughts to objects. But the study shows they do that only to objects they feel they have a connection with. This is why they may say one stuffed animal is their best friend but don’t even consider another stuffie as anything more than a toy.
A few years later
So how does this relate into adulthood? The scientists say adults would feel a bit indifferent to cutting up photos of stuffed animals for example. But if the photos are of their favorite stuffies, then they would get upset. More upset than even losing a mobile phone or gifts from loved ones.
The ones who had a bond with a stuffed animal as kids are much more likely to say that collectable items, no matter what they are, are priceless and can’t really see themselves ever selling them.
Then comes another thing. According to Marjorie Taylor children who had imaginary friends are less shy, more able to focus attention have advanced social understanding relative to other children. Children with pretend friends tend to enjoy interacting with others and, when no-one is around to play with, they make someone up.
The same goes for stuffed animals. They can become the object representing the imaginary friend. Thus the children will put even more care and attention to their friend which will help them develop compassion and understand the responsibilities of having someone to take care of.
So should you just stop caring about your friend (even if imaginary) just because you are now an “adult”? No. Having a nice cuddle with a stuffed animal can and will reduce stress. It also helps cure depression. So if you still want to sleep with your teddy bear or another stuffed animal, there is no reason not to, no matter your age.