Adolescent Egocentrism and the Illusion of Transparency: Are Adolescents as Egocentric as we Might Think?

Abstract

The illusion of transparency, or people’s tendency to believe their thoughts and feelings as more apparent to others than they actually are, was used to investigate adolescent egocentrism. Contrary to previous research demonstrating heightened adolescent egocentrism, adolescents exhibited similar levels of egocentrism to adults. In experiment 1, 13-14 year-olds and adult participants both truthfully described and lied about a series of pictures. Both adolescent and adult liars indicated that they were more confident that other participants would know when they were lying, than other participants actually indicated. In experiment 2, 13-14 year-olds, 15-16 year-olds and adult participants read to an audience. The illusion of transparency effect manifested itself differently according to gender: Female participants indicating that they looked more nervous than audiences thought, whilst male participants indicating that they were more entertaining than audiences thought. Results were interpreted using simulation theory, and suggested that adolescents might not be as egocentric as previously thought. 

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Correspondence to Roshan Rai.

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Rai, R., Mitchell, P., Kadar, T. et al. Adolescent Egocentrism and the Illusion of Transparency: Are Adolescents as Egocentric as we Might Think?. Curr Psychol 35, 285–294 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12144-014-9293-7

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Keywords

  • Egocentrism
  • Illusion of transparency
  • Theory of mind
  • Simulation theory
  • Personal fable
  • Imaginary audience
  • Adolescence
  • Adulthood