Marshall, Tilton-Weaver, and Bosdet (2005) organized a study focusing on the book “Presentation of Self in Everyday Life’ by Goffman (1959) as it applies to adolescents. The book’s premise is the ‘notion of impression management, adolescents’ conveyance of information about their whereabouts and activities to parents’ (Marshall, Tilton-Weaver, & Bosdet, 2005, p. 633). The book discusses how important the presentation of one’s self is to their reputation.
Another aspect of this presentation is the protection of relationships with family and friends, as a manner of making sure the individuals were only given the information they needed while still protecting their ‘self’ (Marshall, Tilton-Weaver, & Bosdet, 2005, p. 633). The study looked at how adolescents regulate information they share with their parents. Adolescents generally fluctuate between lying and a willingness to disclose to their parents information about the activities and this includes misconduct (Marshall, Tilton-Weaver, & Bosdet, 2005, p. 633). Adolescents will decide moment from moment whether they will disclose the truth or various versions of truth depending on what the teenager felt the parents could tolerate.

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The study use 121 adolescents and focused on substance abuse and antisocial behaviors to determine which form of information regulation they would use lying or willingness to disclose (Marshall, Tilton-Weaver, & Bosdet, 2005, p. 633). The study found that the adolescents did withhold or disclose information to their parents according to the relationship with their parents and their parents’ ability to accept the information. The adolescents used ‘impression management techniques’ to determine what to share with their parents and how much to share (Marshall, Tilton-Weaver, & Bosdet, 2005, p. 633).

The results found that adolescents had considerable concern about safety issues and preserving the relationship with their parents and found that this was a delicate balancing act that was very important to them.

  • Marshall, S. K., Tilton-Weaver, L. C., & Bosdet, L. (2005). Information management: Considering adolescents’ regulation of parental knowledge. Journal of Adolescence, 28 (5): 633-647.