Self and Others in Adolescence

Annu Rev Psychol. 2020 Jan 4;71:447-469. doi: 10.1146/annurev-psych-010419-050937. Epub 2019 Jul 23.


Research has demonstrated that adolescence is an important time for self- and other-oriented development that underlies many skills vital for becoming a contributing member of society with healthy intergroup relations. It is often assumed that these two processes, thinking about self and thinking about others, are pitted against each other when adolescents engage in social decision making such as giving or sharing. Recent evidence from social neuroscience, however, does not support this notion of conflicting motives, suggesting instead that thinking about self and others relies on a common network of social-affective brain regions, with the medial prefrontal cortex playing a central role in the integration of perspectives related to self and others. Here, we argue that self- and other-oriented thinking are intertwined processes that rely on an overlapping neural network. Adolescents' motivation to contribute to society can be fostered most when self- and other-oriented motives align.

Keywords: contributions; development; perspective taking; self; social brain; society.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Development / physiology*
  • Ego*
  • Humans
  • Nerve Net / physiology*
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiology*
  • Social Behavior*
  • Thinking / physiology*