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Imaginary Audience and Personal Fable

Adolescence is the transitional period from childhood into adulthood, marked by developmental changes in physical, cognitive, psychosocial, and emotional characteristics. Although there is interconnectedness among these characteristics, cognitive development—the progression of thinking throughout adolescence—is the focus here. One aspect of cognitive development in adolescents is egocentrism. According to noted psychologist David Elkind, adolescent egocentrism has two distinct components: (1) the imaginary audience and (2) the personal fable. These two major forms of egocentrism result from the adolescent’s failure to distinguish his or her own thought processes from those of other people. The basic premise of imaginary audience is that the adolescent who is experiencing it feels as though his or her behavior or actions are the main focus of other people’s attention, whereas the basic ...

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