Demand Characteristics and Self-Report Measures of Imaginary Audience Sensitivity: Implications for Interpreting age Differences in Adolescent Egocentrism
Journal of Genetic Psychology
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.
Lesa Vartanian and Kimberly K. Powlishta (2001).
Demand Characteristics and Self-Report Measures of Imaginary Audience Sensitivity: Implications for Interpreting age Differences in Adolescent Egocentrism. Journal of Genetic Psychology.162 (2), 187-200.