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The social reality of the imaginary audience: A grounded theory approach

Bromnick, Rachel D.; Bell, Joanna H.


Rachel D. Bromnick


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.


Bromnick, R. D., & Bell, J. H. (2003). The social reality of the imaginary audience: A grounded theory approach. Adolescence -San Diego-, 38(150), 205-219

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 30, 2003
Publication Date Jun 1, 2003
Journal Adolescence
Print ISSN 0001-8449
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 38
Issue 150
Pages 205-219
Public URL