Traditionally defined as adolescents’ inability to draw the line between the actual idea that other people have of them and their interpretation of others’ perception of them, adolescent egocentrism is a term coined by David Elkind (Santrock, 2015). The phenomenon is quite common in most adolescent people. In fact, the specified stages of young people’s development can be viewed as indispensable for personal progress. However, an unnecessarily long fixation on the specified stage of one’s development may be viewed as a significant problem in the psychological growth of a person.
A closer look at the subject matter will show that the need for an imaginary audience, as well as the personal fable, it quite obvious and understandable. Particularly, the creation of the latter allows for building an image of one’s self, which an adolescent will later on view as a role model to comply with. Therefore, the design of the specified model will help a young person to believe in themselves and, thus, feel confident when communicating with their peers. In other words, the design of the personal fable creates premises for improving one’s self-esteem and providing a foundation for the further development of a young person. The imaginary audience, which is another attribute of an adolescent’s psychological struggle of fitting in, allows for gaining the appreciation that a youngster needs to retain the required amount of confidence required to communicate efficiently.
As a middle school student, I distinctly remember loathing presentations not because I could not learn the basic facts about the subject matter and recall them when it was required, but because I was genuinely afraid of standing in front of the class and proving that I had learned everything right. There has always been the fear of mixing up names and becoming the laughing stock of the rest of the students, therefore, becoming an outcast.
In retrospect, I have to admit that my fears were completely groundless, not because I was that good at specific subjects, but mainly because I overrated the amount of attention that my fellow students gave me. While I did become the center of their attention for the whole of ten seconds after being called out by the teacher, they would stop paying attention to whatever I was saying shortly after my introductory paragraph. Nevertheless, I feared the moment when I was supposed to stand in front of the entire audience and read my essays out loud. Even when I could see clearly that people were no longer paying any attention to what I was saying, the fear was still there, and I kept believing that a single word said wrong would turn my imaginary audience against me.
The specified phenomenon can be defined as a prime example of an imaginary audience case. However, it would be wrong to assume that the specified problem was an entirely negative factor; by analyzing it and defining the strategy that could help me fight my fears I managed to design the approach that could give me confidence and help speak in public without fearing negative feedback. Therefore, it is not the absence of the imaginary audience phenomenon that defines the successful development of communication skills in an adolescent, but the way, in which the latter handles the problem (Galanaki, 2013).
My childhood friend, Robert, was passing through another stage of adolescent egocentrism at the time, which led to him developing a personal fable regarding his uniqueness. To be more specific, my friend used to believe in his invincibility as far as his academic progress was concerned. For instance, when the teacher assigned us with an essay, Robert could default on his deadline up until he was facing the threat of failing the course. In addition, he would often cheat believing that he would never be caught red-handed – which, needless to say, he was. However, even these failures did no convince him that he was just as dependent on the teacher’s opinion as we were.
The specified example can also be characterized by the presence of the so-called “attention-getting behavior” (Santrock, 2015, p. 358), i.e., the urge for an adolescent to keep people focusing on them and, therefore, recognizing their uniqueness. The specified phenomenon can be viewed as an attempt to prove one’s uniqueness and define one’s position in the hierarchy of the society. Additionally, according to Santrock (2015), the development of a personal fable cab be interpreted as an attempt of young people to “portray themselves as vulnerable” (Santrock, 2015, p. 359). On the surface, the specified concept does not seem applicable to the case study in question. On a second thought, however, the Robert was evidently trying to get the teacher to pay attention to him and his behavior. Consequently, by being as careless as possible, Robert manifested his fear and insecurity about his potential as a student and as a human being. Therefore, the creation of a personal fable can be considered a part of growing up, yet it is only a stage that has to be passed successfully.
Galanaki, E. P. (2013). The imaginary audience and the personal fable: A test of Elkind’s theory of adolescent egocentrism. Psychology, 43(6), 457–466.
Santrock, J. (2015). Life-span development (15th ed.). East Windsor, New Jersey: McGraw-Hill College.