SAGE Journal Articles

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Adolescent Egocentrism 

Dolcini, M. M., Cohn, L. D., Adler, N. E., Millstein, S. G., Irwin, C. E., Kegeles, S. M., & Stone, G. C. (1989). Adolescent egocentrism and feelings of invulnerability: Are they related? Journal of Early Adolescence, 9, 409-418.


The goal of this study was to determine if there was a link between adolescent egocentrism and feelings of indestructibility. The authors hypothesized that one reason adolescents engage in risky behaviors (e.g., smoking, drinking, unprotected sex) may be because adolescent egocentrism prevents teenagers from believing bad things will ever happen to them. A large sample of middle-school students were asked to complete two scales measuring adolescent egocentrism as well as a survey of risky behavior and risk perceptions. The results were contrary to what the authors predicted, such that higher scores on the egocentrism scales were associated with higher levels of perceived risks. 

Discussion Questions:

  1. Why do you think higher levels of egocentrism would be related to higher levels of perceived risk for females, but not for males?
  2. Although it is not surprising that the amount of experience with risky behaviors increased with age, do you think more experience with risky behaviors would increase or decrease perceptions of risk? What factors might impact how risk is perceived?
  3. Can you think of any positive benefits for adolescent egocentrism? What might be some evolutionary reasons why we see this?

Culture and Morality 

Stander, V., & Jensen, L. (1993). The relationship of value orientation to moral cognition: Gender and cultural differences in the United States and China explored. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 24, 42-52.


Although Kohlberg’s theory of moral development laid a foundation for our understanding, there have been significant criticisms of this model based mostly on differences in gender and across non-Western cultures. This study evaluated differences between gender and across two cultures, the United States and China, to determine if these concerns were founded. Using a scale created to test caring and justice orientations, the authors found females were more likely to choose adjectives relating to a caring orientation than males. Contrary to the authors hypothesis, the Chinese group were less likely to choose the caring orientation than the group from the United States.

Discussion Questions:

  1. One of Gilligan’s concerns with Kohlberg’s original model was that there appear to be differences in how males and females respond to moral dilemmas. What are some of the cultural factors (or societal factors) in how males and females develop that could explain these differences?
  2. Although the Chinese sample did not report having a religious affiliation, are there other cultural factors that might not have been accounted for why the Chinese sample was less likely to choose the caring orientation?
  3. Do the results of this study suggest morality is something that is learned or something that we are born with?