Title

Demand Characteristics and Self-Report Measures of Imaginary Audience Sensitivity: Implications for Interpreting age Differences in Adolescent Egocentrism

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

6-2001

Publication Source

Journal of Genetic Psychology

Volume

162

Issue

2

Inclusive pages

187-200

DOI

10.1080/00221320109597960

Abstract

Self-consciousness during early adolescence has been explained as an outcome of adolescent egocentrism, in which adolescents create an imaginary audience (IA) of attentive, critical peers. The possibility that such self-consciousness might result from contact with peers who are more attentive and critical than those encountered during childhood or adulthood has not been considered. Study 1 tested whether young adults, who are not theoretically susceptible to IA, could be made to receive high scores on IA and self-consciousness measures by having them complete a procedure in 1 of 3 laboratory conditions-a critical audience, a noncritical audience, or no audience. However, participants in the critical-audience condition received significantly lower IA and self-consciousness scores than participants in the no-audience condition did. Study 2 tested whether the directions given to Study 1 participants might have been responsible for the unexpected findings. Results indicated that participants instructed to give mature-sounding responses received lower IA/self-consciousness scores than did those asked to report their honest opinions. Together, the results of Studies 1 and 2 indicated that survey measures of IA are subject to demand characteristics and highlighted the need to interpret with caution age differences in IA as traditionally assessed.

Disciplines

Psychology

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