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Self-Conscious Teens - Clinical Study

Updated on June 2, 2020
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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.

Everything changes as children age and new hormones are in their bodies. Boys and girls develop a different interest in each others. Children can also be cruel when making fun of another child, as maybe the child is a little heavy or has acne.


So Embarrassed

I remember one time when I was a teen and swimming at the local pool. I dove off the high dive, and when I hit the water the 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. However, I noticed the life guard 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, but fortunately the other times were less revealing.

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 MPF Cregion 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.



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

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.


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