The social reality of the imaginary audience: a grounded theory approach

Bell, Joanna H. and Bromnick, Rachel D. (2003) The social reality of the imaginary audience: a grounded theory approach. Adolescence, 38 (150). pp. 205-219. ISSN 0001-8449

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Abstract

Traditional approaches to understanding the imaginary audience are challenged in this study. Three hundred sixty-one British schoolchildren (aged 14 and 15 years) were asked to express their worries and concerns, using grounded theory methodology. Qualitative responses were collated and coded according to emerging categories, with "what other people think" identified as the central concern. In particular, the findings are used to critique Elkind's (1967) theory of adolescent egocentrism. Data presented in this study suggest that adolescents worry about what other people think because there are real personal and social consequences. Such concerns are seen as being based in social reality and are not imaginary as Elkind suggested. In conclusion, new methodologies which place young people at the center of the analysis are advocated.

Item Type:Article
Additional Information:Traditional approaches to understanding the imaginary audience are challenged in this study. Three hundred sixty-one British schoolchildren (aged 14 and 15 years) were asked to express their worries and concerns, using grounded theory methodology. Qualitative responses were collated and coded according to emerging categories, with "what other people think" identified as the central concern. In particular, the findings are used to critique Elkind's (1967) theory of adolescent egocentrism. Data presented in this study suggest that adolescents worry about what other people think because there are real personal and social consequences. Such concerns are seen as being based in social reality and are not imaginary as Elkind suggested. In conclusion, new methodologies which place young people at the center of the analysis are advocated.
Keywords:Grounded theory, Ego, Teenagers, adolescence
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C800 Psychology
C Biological Sciences > C820 Developmental Psychology
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Psychology
ID Code:715
Deposited By: Jill Partridge
Deposited On:09 Oct 2007
Last Modified:18 Jul 2011 16:13

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