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What Are the Causes of Egocentrism in Adolescence?

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  • Written By: G. Wiesen
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 05 September 2016
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Egocentrism in adolescence can be caused by numerous factors, though it is typically an aspect of cognitive development that happens as a natural aspect of aging and changing. Between the ages of 11 and 15, many young people begin to develop a far greater awareness of themselves and their identity. This commonly leads to egocentrism in adolescence as children often feel that since they are becoming more aware of themselves, others must be as well and are just as focused on them as they are. It is also possible for environmental factors to impact this development, resulting in the attention of parents or others being seen by the adolescent as the natural views of everyone else.

One of the most common causes of egocentrism is the natural progression of cognitive development for many young people. During adolescence, people typically develop greater awareness of themselves and gain a more complex sense of identity and individualism. As this happens, it is quite common for egocentrism in adolescence to grow and become quite powerful. Even though most people at this age have developed a greater understanding of the distinction between their views and those of others, there is still a tendency for them to imagine that other people are as focused on them as they are on themselves.

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This type of egocentrism often creates two distinct and common aspects: the personal fable and the imaginary audience. A personal fable is a subconscious concept that develops as young people establish their own identity and assume that they are unique in every way. Someone in this age range might argue with a friend and believe that their sense of anger or hurt is greater than anyone else has ever felt, and that they are unique in terms of ideas and feelings.

The imaginary audience also frequently develops due to egocentrism in adolescence, as a person focuses more and more on themselves. As this occurs, the adolescent commonly assumes that everyone else must also be focusing on him or her. This external force becomes an imaginary audience that they believe watches their every mistake and action.

Egocentrism in adolescence can also develop due to environmental factors, especially the attention and comments of parents or other people around someone. A young person who receives a great deal of praise from a parent may extend this view to everyone else, assuming they also see his or her accomplishments as equally worthwhile. This often occurs in conjunction with factors from cognitive development, as attention or actions from others reinforce adolescents' internal views of their self-worth.

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