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, 38 (150), 205-19

The Social Reality of the Imaginary Audience: A Grounded Theory Approach

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  • PMID: 14560876

The Social Reality of the Imaginary Audience: A Grounded Theory Approach

Joanna H Bell et al. Adolescence.

Abstract

Traditional approaches to understanding the imaginary audience are challenged in this study. Three hundred sixty-one British schoolchildren (aged 14 and 15 years) were asked to express their worries and concerns, using grounded theory methodology. Qualitative responses were collated and coded according to emerging categories, with "what other people think" identified as the central concern. In particular, the findings are used to critique Elkind's (1967) theory of adolescent egocentrism. Data presented in this study suggest that adolescents worry about what other people think because there are real personal and social consequences. Such concerns are seen as being based in social reality and are not imaginary as Elkind suggested. In conclusion, new methodologies which place young people at the center of the analysis are advocated.

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