Elkind’s Manifestation of Adolescent Egocentrism


Elkind’sManifestation of Adolescent Egocentrism

Elkind’sManifestation of Adolescent Egocentrism

Adolescenceis a stage in human growth and development in which members of theage group are characterized by egocentric self-examination (Mitchell &amp Ziegler, 2012). According to David Elkind, the behavior ofpersons in this stage is a product of their desire to satisfy theattention of an imagined audience. As a result the ideas of imaginedaudience and personal fables explain the characteristic failure ofadolescents to recognize that topics of self-interest are totallydifferent from those held by others.

TheImaginary audience

Theimaginary audience describes the behavior of adolescents anticipatingthe evaluation of other people based on the admirations they have forthemselves. They assume that the precincts of self-evaluation arethe same as those that others will use to do so. Thus, theyerroneously think that they will be the interest of other people whoare, in some instances, could be non-existent. In fact theadolescent’s audience could be people who are interested in otherissues other than an adolescent who has dermatological challenges.

Thepersonal fable

Typically,an adolescent holds themselves in high-esteem, assuming that theywere chosen with a special decree than anyone else. They end uptelling some imaginary stories to themselves. Elkind refers to thesestories as personal fables. Personal fables are stories that emanatefrom the fantasies of an adolescent where they tell themselves abouttheir privileged status on earth the divine protection they have froma personal god. They also feel that their position guarantees themtriumph in any problem. This explains why they are likely to engagein self-serving activities of impunity.


The best case studies that can illustrate the ideas of imaginaryaudience and personal fables are the gang violence that happened inLondon in 1964 and a boy that drowned in Georgia as his friendswatched. The boy was tied to a shopping cart that was pushed in anearby lake as part of the jubilation that ensued after graduatingfrom high school.

TheLondon gang violence of 1964

In1964, a wave of violence ensued between the police in London and somesixty youths that belonged to warring gangs in the city. The gangscalled themselves the Rockers and the Mods. Each gang arrived at thescene of the fight armed with weapons such as leather belts that hadbrass buckles, golf clubs, cricket bats, chisels, hammers, andchains. According to the New York Times, which reported theincidence, the youths were fighting over shelter to cover themselvesduring the cold winter of 1964. Since the youths new that the mayhemwould be covered on national television and print media, each gangmember worked hard to be on the top page or identified as thetoughest fighter. Unfortunately, many were arrested and charged incourt. This case study shows that the adolescents imagined that theywould get the applause of an audience that was not interested intheir rivalry. Instead, a majority of the audience that followed theevent were citizens interested in seeing them arrested and punishedfor their behavior.

TheDrowned boy in Georgia

Thisis case that demonstrates the idea of personal fables. It isunimaginable for anyone to think that they can still float in lakewhile tied on shopping cart. A teen in Georgia was out to impress anon-looking crowd and of course, his friends by proving that he wereinvincible.His told his friends to tie him on a shopping cart andpush him in a nearby lake. As his friends cheered on he drowned anddied instantly. Based on Elkind’s idea of personal fable, the boymust have assumed that the personal god and the noble position heheld on earth made him immortal hence, could not drown in a ‘mere’lake.


Mitchell,P., &amp Ziegler, F. (2012). Fundamentalsof developmental psychology.Psychology Press