Epistemic Reasoning and Adolescent Egocentrism: Relations to Internalizing and Externalizing Symptoms in Problem Youth

  • Kathleen M. Beaudoin
  • Kimberly A. Schonert-Reichl
Original Paper


This investigation addressed the question of how two forms of social cognitive reasoning – epistemic reasoning and adolescent egocentrism – interface with externalizing and internalizing forms of psychopathology during adolescence. Adolescents’ epistemic reasoning (i.e., types of belief entitlement, or degree of doubt, held by an individual when confronted with contradictory sides of an issue), and imaginary audience and personal fable ideation, were assessed in a sample of 29 adolescent boys with behavioral problems and 30 of their peers without behavioral problems. To assess internalizing and externalizing symptomatology, teachers completed the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL-TRF). Results revealed that, compared to those without behavior problems, boys with behavioral problems were lower in epistemic reasoning. Further analyses revealed consistent relations between dimensions of social cognitive reasoning to specific forms of psychopathology. These findings suggest that social cognitive reasoning, particularly epistemic doubt, is important in understanding problem behaviors among typical and atypical adolescents.


Epistemic reasoning Adolescent egocentrism Social cognition Problem youth 



Appreciation is expressed to Michael Chandler for his insights and unending support, Barbara Hauschel for her help with data coding, and Patti McDougall for her assistance with statistical analyses. The authors wish to express their thanks to the numerous school staff and administrators who helped make this project possible; and especially to the adolescents and their teachers for their enthusiastic participation in this project.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kathleen M. Beaudoin
    • 1
  • Kimberly A. Schonert-Reichl
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of EducationUniversity of Washington, TacomaTacomaUSA
  2. 2.University of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada

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