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Courtney C

on 20 March 2013

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Egocentrism in Adolescents Introducing Egocentrism Hypothesis The Personal Fable & Social Networking Social scientists who support egocentrism state and believe the following... While Elkind's theory of egocentrism in adolescence is evident throughout many generations, social media enhances this self-absorbency further. Due to this, today's generation of adolescents is more susceptible to acting on the three thought processes that result from egocentrism. Personal Fable Egocentrism in Adolescence Adolescence is characterized by immaturity in thinking and underdeveloped formal reasoning ability
This period is marked with extreme indecisiveness
Teens are critical of adults and the 'real world' and are very idealistic
Adolescents see themselves as invulnerable and invincible as well as the center of attention
Adolescent egocentrism is a stage of self-absorbtion where the world is seen only from one's own perspective Who is the founder of this theory? David Elkind 1931- present Child psychologist
Author of multiple ground breaking books regarding children's education Adolescent Egocentrism Fosters 3 Defined Thought Processes Personal Fable: Teens believe they are the only one capable of experiencing their own unique emotion
Imaginary Audience: Adolescents believe they are living life on a stage and that they are the focus of others' attention
Risk Taking: Teens don't consider risks encountered by others to be applicable to their situation (due to the personal fable they see their own experience as entirely different and unique.) Intent Through the use of secondary research, modern examples and the results of participant observation of teens in social media outlets, it will be proven that social media feeds egocentrism and contributes to narcissism in adolescence. Participant Observation This form of primary research will be carried out through the analysis of recent posts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram written by teens. The nature of the posts will be taken note of in order to guage the relevance of the consequences of an egocentric mind: the personal fable, the imaginary audience, and the risk taking thought process. Teens develop a personal fable, in which they over-differentiate their feelings and believe they are the only ones capable of experiencing their unique emotions (Niegowski, 2010) "Nobody understands me!" "because he believes he is of importance to so many people, he comes to regard himself , and particularly his feelings as something special or unique." (Elkind, 1967) You Are NOT Special In the following clip, an english teacher tells a group of emerging adolescents that there are thousands and thousands of people just like them... that they aren't as special as they like to think. Participant Observation Here are a few tweets found that prove Elkind's theory of the personal fable, where teens believe they are the only ones experiencing the feelings they do. Related Theory The physical materials, conditions, and economic activity of an environment determine how the ideas and ideology of a culture develop. (De Coeur, 2012) This theory is proven through the personal fables of teens because today's North American societies is very narcissistic which has in turn made North American youth very egocentric. Twitter and Facebook are used as tools in which to express daily feelings that adolescents feel are not only unique but also of some kind of value to their imaginary audience. The idea that someone is enticed by their feelings encourages them to document them. Cultural Materialism (Anthropology) Social Networking and The Imaginary Audience Imaginary Audience Adolescents believe they are living life on a stage and that they are the focus of everyone`s attention. Since teens spend so much time thinking about themselves, they assume others must be doing the same. (Niegowski, 2010) ``While the adolescent can cognize the thoughts of others, he fails to differentiate between the object toward which the thoughts of others are directed and those which are the focus of his own concern.`` (Elkind, 1967) Participant Observation Here are a few tweets found that prove Elkind's theory of the imaginary audience, where teens believe that others are concerned with their lives. Related Theory Looking Glass Self (Psychology) A Person's self-image which forms by imagining what others think of his or her behaviour and appearance. (De Coeur, 2012) This Theory is proven through the imaginary audience because it is obvious that adolescents make themselves believe that others are interested, and thus act as though they live celebrity lives to keep their 'audience entertained. It is the belief of superiority felt in distorted teen minds that provoke them to act the way they do- because they believe others expect them to act that way. In this mindset, young adults often even resort to exhibiting risky behaviour or acting out under the impression that it will matter to other people. Social Networking and Risk Taking Risky Behaviour Adolescents do not consider the risks and outcomes of others to be applicable to them or their situation. This ties into the personal fable because it is the concept of feeling so unique that keeps teens from relating to the consequences suffered by others- pushing them to take risks anyways. (Niegowski, 2010) "No, this is totally different!" Formal operations not only permit a young person to construct all the possibilities in a system and construct contrary- to -fact propositions; they also enable him to conceptualize his own thought, to take his mental constructions as objects of their own and reason about them. (Elkind, 1967) Teens have such a reputation for needless risky behaviour, shows have been made solely to compile clips of ridiculous ideas ending in painful results, yet adolescents continue to make the same mistakes. An example of this is the show Ridiculousness. Ridiculousness Participant Observation The following are some examples of risks teens take with disregard of the warnings of others... smoking drug use/ alcohol consumption body adorning Driving wrecklessly/ driving under the influence Neglecting educational responsibilities dangerous sports or activities without proper training Related Theory Learning Theory (Psychological) Certain behaviours are based in childhood experiences or exposures and these behaviours are both predictable and modifiable.
(De Coeur, 2012) This theory is relevant to the idea of adolescent risk taking tendencies because of the images portrayed on media by celebrities doing stunts or pro-athletes doing tricks is seen by children and teens and they wish to replicate the behaviour they see. They do this not only because it will gain attention but also because it is their percieved norm if seen frequently enough, which is why they don't listen to warnings by parents or others. In conclusion... The ideas in Elkind's egocentrism theory can be found within any generation of adolescents. However, in the millenial generation with social networking at their fingertips and the media in their faces, these tendencies will not only intensify but become more apparent through the constant documentation of one's feelings and thoughts online. Courtney Collard
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