Imaginary imaginary friends? Television viewing and satisfaction with friendships

Jeremy Freese*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Kanazawa [Evol. Hum. Behav. 23 (2002) 167] applies evolutionary psychological principles to current debates about social capital by proposing that our evolved minds process information about television characters as though they were real people in our lives. He contends that people thus derive similar satisfaction from "imaginary friends" on television as they do from real friendships, and that men and women should be especially satisfied with their imaginary friends if they watch programs featuring settings similar to where members of their sex tend to form real friendships. Kanazawa claims support for the hypothesis from analyses using the 1993 US General Social Survey (GSS); however, I argue that Kanazawa's tests may be inadequate because his measure of satisfaction with friendships might substantially reflect overall life satisfaction. Using the same data but measuring satisfaction with friendships relative to satisfaction with other areas of life, I find that the associations taken as supporting Kanazawa's hypothesis largely disappear.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)65-69
Number of pages5
JournalEvolution and Human Behavior
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2003


  • Bowling alone
  • Robert D. Putnam
  • Social capital
  • Television

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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