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Development of Social Cognition and Adolescent Egocentrism

Maturation of the adolescent brain, along with biological and environmental changes, lead to new social encounters and a heightened awareness and belief that others are interested in and attentive to their behaviors and appearance. This awareness is thought to be associated with an increased attention to socially salient stimuli, particularly faces, and the processing of emotional information (Herba and Phillips, 2004).

This heightened awareness is referred to as Adolescent Egocentrism, and according to Berger (2011), it is a developmentally normal characteristic of adolescent thinking that leads young people to focus on themselves to the exclusion of others.

First described by David Elkind in his 1967 work Egocentrism in Adolescence, adolescent egocentrism begins at or around the age of 11 through 13 when the individual has began transition into Piaget’s formal operational stage of development (Alberts, Elkind & Ginsberg, 2007).

This phenomenon, which is common in both sexes and within every ethnic group, continues throughout adolescence and is more prevalent in those who have delinquency and aggression problems as well as those with eating disorders (Schwartz et al.

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, 2008).

According to Berger (2011), adolescents interpret the behavior of others as if it were a direct judgment on them, oftentimes leading to false conclusions such as fables – where the individual considers themselves to be especially unique or extraordinary, with the ability to overcome any obstacle, including the threat of death, that comes their way; and the imaginary audience –they are “center stage” (Berger, 2011).

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Development of Social Cognition and Adolescent Egocentrism. (2020, Jun 01). Retrieved from

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