The audience effect in adolescence depends on who's looking over your shoulder

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Adolescents have been shown to be particularly sensitive to peer influence. However, the data supporting these findings have been mostly limited to the impact of peers on risk-taking behaviours. Here, we investigated the influence of peers on performance of a high-level cognitive task (relational reasoning) during adolescence. We further assessedwhether this effect on performance was dependent on the identity of the audience, either a friend (peer) or the experimenter (non-peer). We tested 24 younger adolescent (10.6-14.2 years), 20 older adolescent (14.9-17.8 years) and 20 adult (21.8-34.9 years) female participants. The presence of an audience affected adolescent, but not adult, relational reasoning performance. This audience effect on adolescent performance was influenced by the participants' age, task difficulty and the identity of the audience. These findings may have implications for education, where adolescents often do classwork or homework in the presence of others.




Wolf, L. K., Bazargani, N., Kilford, E. J., Dumontheil, I., & Blakemore, S. J. (2015). The audience effect in adolescence depends on who’s looking over your shoulder. Journal of Adolescence, 43, 5–14.

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