Personal Fable - The Personal Fable and Risk Taking in Adolescence - Potential Positive Factors of The Personal Fable

Potential Positive Factors of The Personal Fable

Research has come to distinguish three main subtypes of the personal fable. Omnipotence relates to the adolescent believing he has great authority or power (i.e. he is capable of what most others are not). Invulnerability is just that: the adolescent believes he cannot be harmed or affected in the ways others can. And finally, uniqueness is the adolescent’s belief that he and his experiences are novel and unique to him (i.e. no one else could possibly relate). Distinguishing between the personal fable's three subtypes has merit. Research has shown that omnipotence does not seem to be related to delinquent behaviour such as substance use, nor to depression or suicidal ideation. In fact, omnipotence is suggested to act as a protective factor, allowing for superior adjustment, high coping skills and self-worth. Contrary to omnipotence, invulnerability relates to risk behaviour and delinquency, and uniqueness, which is more prevalent in girls, is related to depression and suicidal ideation (and is found to increase with age). Research has focused significantly more on the personal fable's negative effects and it is important to consider pursuing omnipotence to capitalize on its positive results.

Looking at each subtype of the personal fable - invulnerability, omnipotence and uniqueness - revealed that invulnerability was highly correlated with externalizing behaviours, namely risk-taking(i.e. delinquency and substance use). Personal fable as a whole was found to be a multidimensional construct, contrary to the belief of it being invariably negative. Omnipotence was not correlated with any negative outcomes and in fact was correlated with superior adjustment and feelings of self-worth. Uniqueness (more prevalent in females) was highly correlated with depression and suicidal ideation. Therefore, although a certain subset of the personal fable was once again found to significantly predict involvement in risky behaviour, further examination into the multidimensionality of the personal fable is recommended. Particularly, examining whether omnipotence may in fact aid in healthy development and appropriate risk taking would be of utmost importance

An Australian research brought into play the Trans-Theoretical Model (a model used to determine an individual's level of readiness and commitment to changing their behaviours to healthier alternatives) in conjunction with the personal fable to examine smoking and implications for smoking cessation. The researchers found that the personal fable is consistently associated with unhealthy and high risk behaviours. Findings from their study provide mixed results however. Although pre-contemplative smokers (individuals believing they do not exhibit any problem behaviour) revealed high levels of omnipotence, ex-smokers did as well. These results suggest personal fable actually plays an important role in smoking cessation and researchers should consider re-evaluating the constructs to determine whether omnipotence could become stronger after smoking cessation (omnipotence in this particular case being the individual’s belief that he can stop smoking whenever he wants). In the end, it is suggested the personal fable might be better conceptualised as encompassing both adaptive and maladaptive beliefs

Read more about this topic:  Personal Fable, The Personal Fable and Risk Taking in Adolescence

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