The Imaginary Audience, Self‐Consciousness, and Public Individuation in Adolescence

Richard M. Ryan, Rebecca Kuczkowski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


ABSTRACT In this study, we examined the construct of the imaginary audience (Elkind & Bowen, 1979), presumably a precipitant of adolescent egocentrism, as it relates to public individuation and self‐consciousness. We hypothesized that the imaginary audience inhibits public individuation and represents a critical form of public self‐consciousness. We also argued that the imaginary audience is a normal aspect of early adolescent development that diminishes in the context of secure parental relationships by late adolescence but remains salient if these relationships are insecure. These hypotheses were examined in a cross‐sectional study of 850 adolescents in the 7th, 8th, 9th, and 12th grades. Support was generally found for the hypothesized relations. The validity and limitations of the imaginary audience and public individuation constructs are discussed, along with more general theoretical issues concerning adolescent self‐consciousness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)219-238
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Personality
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1994


Dive into the research topics of 'The Imaginary Audience, Self‐Consciousness, and Public Individuation in Adolescence'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this