Egocentrism the Concept of Egocentrism in Adolescence Term Paper

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The concept of egocentrism in adolescence has been controversial for years. Many theorists have addressed the topic with differing beliefs and conclusions (McDevitt, 2002). Egocentrism in adolescence can be painful not only for the adolescence but for those who are within his or her life circle. It is all about concern that they are being watched. Teens often stop letting mom or dad go to their school, they do not want to be seen in public with them and they insist on wearing the popular name brand clothing or they believe that their life will be ruined.

There are several schools of thought regarding egocentrism in teens. Piaget believed that it actually began to dissipate during the teen years though he did develop a theory about why teens are preoccupied with what others think about them (McDevitt, 2002). According to Piaget it is actually a bit contradictory. It is not as much about being self absorbed as it is about being able to understand people outside of themselves. Piaget believes that egocentrism revolves around the fact that the adolescent for the first time can grasp other people's existence (McDevitt, 2002). The fact that they can take into account the feelings and behaviors of those outside themselves makes them suddenly aware of how they might appear to those people. This newfound understanding leads the adolescence to worry about something Piaget called the Imaginary Audience. It is a perception that the world is watching the teen and reacting, which causes the teen to worry about how he or she appears to that audience (McDevitt, 2002).

Erikson's stages of development also address egocentrism in teens. His belief was that it He believed that egocentrism was a by product of finding oneself. An identity crisis is necessary to develop one's adult personality and that crisis includes the belief that the world is working against them to stop them from development (McDevitt, 2002). Teens in this stage often adopt dress patterns, speech patterns or beliefs that are diametrically opposed to those of their parents or much older siblings. This is a classic step to pulling away from the adults and becoming their own person, while believing that the world is out to stop that process (McDevitt, 2002). Egocentrism in teens is common and a necessary part of development though experts do not always agree on its cause and foundation.

If this stage is not experienced it is possible that the individual will have problems adjusting to an emotionally healthy adult life because they will be lacking the comfort of knowing "who they are and how the world views their actions."


Many people believe that puberty begins when periods begin for females, and shaving begins for males but this is not the case. Puberty is a long process that is complicated by emotional maturation issues, societal events and family dynamics (Boys Delayed Puberty: How To Ease Fears by Charles Wibbelsman, MD ( is often called the most difficult period in a young person's life because of the many feelings it creates and the hormonal land mine it involves (McDevitt, 2002). Puberty is something that parents of older teens look at parents of children about and smile a knowing smile. Many parents of young children believe that "their" children will never become weepy, grumpy, seeming strangers in their own home, and are dutifully shocked when the transformation begins. Puberty is the benchmark for preparing for adulthood and it has many avenues, implications and outcomes when it follows the average and normal pattern. When puberty is delayed or comes early it can wreak havoc on the family dealing with its arrival because there are psychological and social consequences to being outside the norm in this very scrutinized very necessary stage of development (Boys Delayed Puberty: How To Ease Fears by Charles Wibbelsman, MD (

Puberty at its best will begin at the same time formal operational reasoning begins according to several popular developmental theorists.

Each person has their own time table for how puberty begins and how long it lasts. Boys may begin to start showing signs of puberty while they are still in the elementary school years. Others however will not begin the process until they are well into the high school years.

When all conditions are ideal, puberty shows itself around the same time the child begins to develop formal operational reasoning skills (McDevitt, 2002). Theorist Jean Piaget developed the theory about this stage of development regarding teens.

This stage allows the person to begin abstract thinking and the understanding of conceptual ideas and beliefs.

This is an important stage of development because it allows for what if thinking. What if thinking is important because it allows for the acceptance and discussion of ideas outside one's own ideas and beliefs. If this stage of development coincides with the beginning steps of puberty the adolescent is usually emotionally and cognitively ready for the changes his or her body will undergo during the process.

If the two stages do not occur in the same time frame there can be social and psychological issues that develop. Before one can understand why this is the case one must have an understanding about puberty. Puberty is the time that physical changes take a child and move them into physical adult maturation (McDevitt, 2002). For girls it cumulates in the starting of their monthly cycles and growing breast. For boys it is earmarked and characterized by the need to shave and a deepening of the voice. Both genders develop pubic hair and arm pit hair and both genders will find they begin to have body odor if they do not practice personal hygiene.

If puberty occurs early it is called precocious puberty. Precocious puberty occurs if the signs begin before a girl reaches eight years old or before a boy attains the age of nine. If puberty has not begun before a girl is 13 and before a boy is 14 it is considered to be late onset puberty (early puberty (

Puberty beginning early can carry several ramifications. The child involved may begin to experience feelings of embarrassment. The cognitive development has not yet reached the stage of abstract thinking a the child may have a hard time viewing the world as a whole and will focus on the fact that he or she is different. The physical changes taking place coupled with the emotional changes that are occurring can create an emotionally charged environment for the child and those around him or her. In addition the child will most likely have friends who are the same age or the same age group and are not yet developing. This can lead to feelings of self-consciousness as well as garner teasing from the group members.

The child who is developing early may seek out older peers because she or he will have more in common with them in physical development. This can have negative consequences however due to the fact that the child is not yet emotionally able to handle the lifestyle of the older peers. It can cause the child to act pseudo mature and get themselves into situations they are not yet emotionally equipped to deal with (McDevitt, 2002).

Another serious consequence of early puberty can be early decisions that the child is not ready to make. Looking older can create a situation where the child is found to be attractive to older teens. A girl who is fully developed by 12 may find herself garnering attention from boys who are 16 years old. They may not know how old she is and she initially may find herself flattered by the attention, however it can lead to stressful situations when the young teen is pushed to date years before she is emotionally able to handle that decision making process.

If puberty starts to late other problems can arise. Adolescence is often defined by identity seeking and that is often wrapped up in looks. If a teen is the last one to develop in his or her social group she or he may find that the group is leaving him or her behind in many activities. When girls are buying bras, and shaving their legs and boys are shaving their faces and using deodorant the late developer may feel there is something fundamentally wrong with them for not needing to practice the same habits. This can cause the late developer to withdraw socially and can even trigger a clinically diagnosable depression.

An adolescent who is not developing as quickly as his or her peers may feel the need to act older than they are to make up for the physical delay. One of the things this may lead to is promiscuity. This creates a social situation in which the youngster may develop a reputation that creates a difficult school or home environment thereby triggering even further social isolation and depression.

Another consequence that can develop in late puberty is that the teen is treated much younger than he…

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