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Funny and scary in children’s narratives: cognitive aspect

Funny and scary in children’s narratives: cognitive aspect

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Recieved: 05/16/2022

Accepted: 06/04/2022

Published: 08/24/2022

Keywords: funny; scary; overcoming fear; dialectical thinking; children’s narratives

p.: 44-51

DOI: 10.11621/npj.2022.0306

Available online: 24.08.2022

To cite this article:

Shiyan, Olga A. . Funny and scary in children’s narratives: cognitive aspect . // National Psychological Journal 2022. 3. p.44-51. doi: 10.11621/npj.2022.0306

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Issue 3, 2022

Shiyan, Olga A. Russian State University For The Humanities


Background. The study of the funny and the scary in the children’s subculture, described in the article by E.O. Smirnova and A.L. Romanova, allows us to consider these phenomena as the reverse side and an integral part of mastering culture, to see the dialectics of development. 

Objective. The aim of the study is to analyse the cognitive mechanisms used to overcome fear on the basis of children’s narratives. 

Sample. The study involved 57 children aged 6 to 6.5 years from two kindergartens (Moscow). 

Methods. The empirical study was carried out with the author’s methodology “Non-scary story”: the children were asked to compose a story about a scary character, though the story itself ought to have been not scary. The study was conducted in preschool groups,contrasted by the parameter of education quality. The quality of education was assessed with the ECERS-3 (educational environment assessment scales) and the scales for assessing the conditions for the development of creative abilities, developed and tested in the Laboratory of Child Development at Moscow City University. 

Results. Among the ways to overcome the scary in children’s stories, two major ways can be noted. The first one is turning a scary character into a non-scary one, and the second one is creating ambivalent characters that combine opposites of the scary and the funny. In both cases, dialectical thinking is the cognitive mechanism which makes it possible for a child to operate with opposites and to reflect situations of contradiction and development. In the stories of children from the group with higher quality of education, ambivalent characters were found twice as often as in the other group (according to Student’s t-test, the differences are significant at the level of 0.05), which may indicate a connection between the quality of educational process and child development. 

Conclusion. Solving the problem of overcoming fear when writing a narrative, children can use dialectical thinking — in particular, the actions of transformation and mediation (in ambivalent images combining opposites in themselves). It can be assumed that such symbolic activity as story creation acts as scaffolding1 for implementation and development of dialectical structures in preschool age.


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To cite this article:

Shiyan, Olga A. . Funny and scary in children’s narratives: cognitive aspect . // National Psychological Journal 2022. 3. p.44-51. doi: 10.11621/npj.2022.0306

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