Self-Conscious Teens - Clinical Study

Embarrassed

Self-Conscious Teens

If you remember the self-conscious feelings you probably had as a teen, or if you have teenagers in your home, it is common to see them become very self-conscious at times. Scientists have discovered a physical reason for this self-consciousness, as it is linked to a specific brain response and a physiological one as well.

So Embarrassed

I remember one time when I was a teen and swimming at the local pool. I dived off the high dive and when I hit the water my bathing suit strap around my neck came apart. The water pushed my bathing suit down around my waist. I quickly pulled in up and hung on as I climbed out of the pool, but I noticed the lifeguard watching me with a smile on his face. I must have turned beet red, because I was so embarrassed. I would not look at the life guard at all. This was not the only time I experienced that self-conscious feeling and fortunately the other times were less revealing.

Two Teens Talking about the Other Girl

The Police - Don’t Stand So Close To Me

Teenage Problems

Teenagers may be self-conscious about a variety of physical characteristics, such as thinking they are too short, too skinny or fat, have acne on their face or a girl that is small busted.

In addition to physical characteristics there are an endless number of scenarios that can be humiliating. The teacher may ask a question and you give a dumb answer, or maybe someone says something to you that is humiliating.

On the other hand, we see some teens that are cocky and seem so sure of themselves. However, their brains are working the same way, and the way a teen acts can mimic environmental factors. They may be emulating a parent or someone else they think is cool, because they have poor self-confidence.

Harvard Clinical Study

Harvard University researchers have concluded that adolescents typically feel embarrassed more readily than adults, but they also have a peak of activation in the brain, which is found in the dorsal medial prefrontal cortex (MPFC). This area of the brain is one of the last areas of the brain to develop. Teens also have a higher connectivity between this region of the brain and the striatum, which is another area of the brain. Adolescents were tested by making them feel like they were being watched by a camera, which was not turned on.

There were 69 people in this study, with ages that ranged from eight to 23. Each one had a social evaluation test using brain imaging. The study group was told that a person in their age group was watching them at times, and at other times they were told the camera was turned off.

Child and Teen Social Anxiety Disorder

Emotional Maturity

Adolescence is a unique time in a person’s life where their identity if being formed, as they are actually building a sense of self. This is a time of greater independence, so adolescents are going to think of themselves more at this time. Parents will not be around them for much longer as college is ahead for some, and jobs for others. Teens begin to rely on what their friends think more than their parents. So, while they are dealing with their self-image, they also have peer pressure.

As the adolescent contemplates their aims and traits, they also use the MPFC region of the brain. Greater use of this area of the brain indicates the teen is learning to attribute complex mental states to themselves and other people. An example of this would be contemplating their intentions. This area of the brain also stores self-knowledge. Once we have figured out who we are, we do not keep making this decision over and over again.

Summary

This area of self-reflection is certainly more active in teens, but it is a process that continues throughout our lives. This occurs at significant stages of our lives, such as beginning parenthood

© 2013 Pamela Oglesby

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Comments 34 comments

SubRon7 profile image

SubRon7 3 years ago from eastern North Dakota

Hi Pamela,

Good and interesting hub. I "forgot" there was a rock group named "The Police" so watching the video I at first thought, "Wow, those guys don't look like police."

Back to the message of your hub. Too bad so much of it is true. I especially think of the boys and girls with that poor self-image and what they go through, and I'm sure we lose a lot of good adults because they simply "gave up" as teens.

You also said that self-consciousness follows us into adulthood. Today I am an example. I just made my first video (3 minutes) (that I haven't released yet) which describes my latest novel. Of course, I'm a little concerned, as I am opening myself up to major criticism, but, I guess, as an adult, I guess I'll be able to take whatever comes.

If I can figure out how, I will also release it to HubPages.

Thank you, Pamela!


billybuc profile image

billybuc 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

I had a horrible time as a teenager, and the one remaining teen we have now has issues in this area. Great information here Pamela. Thank you for doing the research and passing it along to the rest of us parents.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 3 years ago from United States Author

James, I hope you do release the video. I doubt you will receive major criticism, and if there are some critical people I wouldn't worry about it. You can't please everyone, I was trying to find a song that fit the topic, so that is where The Police music came in, but I hope it doesn't confuse people. The very fact that you have written another novel is awesome. Congratulations! Thanks for your comments.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 3 years ago from United States Author

Billy, I think it is even harder for teens now than when we grew up. The only saving grace is that we ususally outgrow it. Good luck and I appreciate the comments.


Melovy profile image

Melovy 3 years ago from UK

This was interesting. I knew the teen brain is not yet fully developed but didn't realise it had an impact in this way. With 2 teenage daughters it's useful information for me and will make it easier for me to guide them through this time. Thanks!


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 3 years ago from United States Author

Melvoy, I didn't really understand that being self-conscious had to do with the brain development either until I read an article and did some research. I am so glad this will help you with your daughters. I think it is good to know this is something they will slowly outgrow in most cases. Thanks for your comments.


always exploring profile image

always exploring 3 years ago from Southern Illinois

This is an interesting topic. I can remember having some issues as a teen. I was very self-conscious. One of my granddaughters is going through that stage. I was watching TV last night, America's got talent, one young man was gay and was in tears, stating, I want to win so badly to prove i'm worth something. He had the most beautiful operatic voice. Thank you for a great hub..


Sue Bailey profile image

Sue Bailey 3 years ago from South Yorkshire, UK

My children are beyond their teens now but this hub explains a lot. Won't be long before the grandchildren are teenagers! Voted up and shared.


pinto2011 profile image

pinto2011 3 years ago from New Delhi, India

Hi Pamela! For years I have felt so that teens and younger lots are much more self-conscious than their older generation but you have made the subject crystal clear as why it is so.


Mhatter99 profile image

Mhatter99 3 years ago from San Francisco

Thank you for this. Thanks to a teacher, Johnny Land, I learned self confidence early.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 3 years ago from United States Author

Ruby, I watched that man also and was so glad he won. I appreciate your comments.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 3 years ago from United States Author

Sue, This information explained a lot to me also, which is one reason I wanted to write about this topic after I read a short article. Thank you for your comments.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 3 years ago from United States Author

pinto, I'm glad you found this hub helpful. Thanks for your comments.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 3 years ago from United States Author

Martin, A good teacher can sure make a big impact on students. Thanks for sharing your experience.


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 3 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K

Hi Pamela, a wonderful and informative hub. I can remember being painfully self-conscious as a teenager. I always seemed to be the tallest teen among my friends, I hated my parents for making me so darn tall and skinny. Then I found out being tall and skinny was actually a plus. The research show why those teen years are so difficult for some.

Great article.


epbooks profile image

epbooks 3 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

Very informative hub. I had always been shy as a teenager and one of the things I never had was the ability to laugh at myself- back then. I think I took everything to heart. Now, I see things differently and try not to be so sensitive. This hub was a good explanation of why teens feel the way they do. Voted up!


marcoujor profile image

marcoujor 3 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

Thank you for passing this on, Pam. So interesting, explaining what seems to be a universal developmental issue.

Perfect song choice to listen along...Voted UP and UABI. Hugs, Maria


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 3 years ago from United States Author

tobusiness, Tall and skiiny does sound good now. I am glad they did the research as it explains a lot. Thanks for sharing your experience and your comments.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 3 years ago from United States Author

ebooks, I was a lot like that also. I appreciate your comments.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 3 years ago from United States Author

Maria, I appreciate all of your comments. Hugs for you too.


drbj profile image

drbj 3 years ago from south Florida

This is an interesting exposition regarding teen angst, Pamela. Thank you for your excellent research.


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

Thank you for this informative and interesting hub, Pamela. It was fascinating to learn about the Harvard University study!


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 3 years ago from United States Author

drbj, I think it gives us some answers about teens. I appreciate your comments.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 3 years ago from United States Author

Alicia, I am so glad you enjoyed the hub and I appreciate your comments.


pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 3 years ago from sunny Florida

This is a revelation to me. I had no idea these studies had been conducted but it does help to understand some of why were so embarrassed as teenagers. I do remember some of those!

thank you for sharing Pamela.have a lovely Sunday. Angels are on the way ps


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 3 years ago from United States Author

Patricia, I am glad you found the information helpful. It helped me understand why I was that way also. Thanks for your comments. Thanks for the angels. God bless.


midget38 profile image

midget38 3 years ago from Singapore

Oh my, I think it never leaves some of us! I think we're all conscious of something or other, especially if its something others tend to pick on and make fun of (height, weight). It's the social pressure we inflict on each other that makes people behave this way, teens included. A great write which I share, Pamela.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 3 years ago from United States Author

midget, It is a shame people find it necessary to pick on each other and teens are so sensitive to those remarks. Thanks for your comments.


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 3 years ago from South Africa

So interesting to know that the reasons for human behaviour are firmly settled in the functions of the brain - and mostly instigated by what we know and understand. I don't think we ever outgrown all instigators of embarrassment; our inhibitions are too strong to be cancelled by knowledge. Very interesting hub, thank you, Pamela :)


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 3 years ago from United States Author

Martie, I think it is good to know there is a reason for feeling so self conscious when you are young and I agree with your comments. Much appreciated as always.


aethelthryth profile image

aethelthryth 3 years ago from American Southwest

If it is something going on in the brain, I suppose no reasoning is going to help all that much, but I do wish someone had convinced me when I was 15 of a saying I read later and have decided is true; when you are 15 you are embarrassed because everyone is looking at you; but when you get to be 30+ you realize nobody was even paying attention!


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 3 years ago from United States Author

aethelthyth, That is funny and it certainly has some truth to it. Thanks so much for your comments.


DDE profile image

DDE 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

Most teenagers go through such moments the problem is coping with it all, embarrassing, insecure moments can take make one feel less confident, great hub.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 3 years ago from United States Author

DDE, I agree and no one likes feeling like that. I appreciate your comments.

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