According to David (1967), adolescent egocentrism refers to the belief by the teenagers that other people are highly attentive to their appearance and behaviors. They feel that all eyes are on them. I witnessed this in my fifteen year old sister as she spend most of her time looking at herself in the mirror to ensure that she looks good as she thinks that if she looks bad everybody will notice it. At this stage, teenagers get upset at any slight embarrassment. For instance, when my sister dropped her spoon in the cafeteria, she felt embarrassed as she thought everybody noticed it and will not forget it. He urges the parents to be more watchful of their teenagers at this stage.
Adolescent egocentrism results into two beliefs which is most commonly seen in teenagers that is, the `imaginary audience’ and the `personal fable.’ Imaginary audience refers to the belief by the teenagers that there exists a group of followers who are keen in each and every move they make. They believe that their followers judge and comment on their actions and appearance. This feeling varies with the moods of the teenager in that when my sister is feeling self-critical she thinks that everybody around her is also judgmental about her appearance and behavior. But when she feels self-adoring, she tends to think that everybody around her is struck by her beauty. The adolescent belief on imaginary audience has a profound impact on their moods. It makes them to feel embarrassed of themselves of any silly act even when it is a private moment since private moments are public to them.
Personal fable on the other hand refers to the belief by the teenagers that they are somehow highly special than any other persons around them. This brings about superiority complex among the teenagers. This has dangerous consequences among the teenagers as they believe that since they are more special they are invulnerable too. They believe that nothing bad can possibly happen to them as they perceived themselves to be different from other people. A study conducted by Belsky (2012), revealed that the belief of personal fable and one’s invulnerability directly influences the risk-taking behaviors in teenagers. Some of the risk-taking behaviors teenagers usually indulge themselves into include use of alcohol and drugs, driving without license and engaging in unprotected sex. The study further reveals that personal fable and self-esteem are not related. It argues that most people tend to think that personal fable helps to boost the teenager’s self-esteem.
In addition, the teenagers get emotional at any slight provocation. This results to increased emotional intensity among them. Moreover, the adolescent egocentrism can results into isolation among the teenagers. This happens when the teenager feels he or she is more special than those around him or her and therefore fails to see his or her equal to associate with. This brings about social sensitivity as the teenager tends to be selective on those he or she hangs around with.
Adolescent egocentrism is universal in all the teenagers and therefore cannot be prevented. It is a stage in each and every teenager’s life. At this stage, parents are urged to be more supportive and understanding. Without the guidance of the parents, the teenagers can indulge in dangerous activities which can compromise their lives.
David Elkind (1967): Egocentrism in Adolescence.
Belsky, J. (2012). Experiencing the Lifespan (3rd edition).