Media role model influence on adolescent identity development


The creation of identity, a stable sense of one's self, is a major developmental process in adolescence (Erikson, 1950). Identity develops through the process of socialization and identification with other people, such as role models. Adolescents have a primary inclination to use media in socialization, and Arnett ( 1995),reasons that the familial sources of socialization start to diminish during adolescence. Although peers are a major contributor of identity formation, media personalities are also used in the development of identity (Arnett, 1995). The purpose of the present study was to examine adolescents' identity-socialization process through use of 'media-based personalities. A sample of three-hundred-and-one students between the ages of 11 and 21 were surveyed. The participants were administered a questionnaire packet including written instructions and questions pertaining to the individual’s demographics, and identification with media-based role models. The packet also included the following inventories: the Multidimensional Self-Esteem Inventory (O'Brien and Epstein, 1987), the Emotional Autonomy Scale (Steinberg and Silverberg, 1986), and the Extended Version: Objective Measure of Ego Identity Status (Adams and Grotevant, 1979). The results of the present study suggested that media role models do have a significant impact on identity development in adolescence. Younger adolescents did not differ from older adolescents in overall level of media role model identification, but the variation in level of identification was much smaller for younger than for older adolescents, indicating that older adolescents are more individuated in their attitudes toward role models. Significant correlation's were also found between how often one wears clothing and jewelry associated with media role models and personality variables, such as emotional autonomy and level of identity attainment. Level of Total identification with media role models stayed high and steady throughout all adolescent age ranges. This finding suggests that media role models are highly identified with by adolescents. Overall, this study purports that media role model identification is a healthy process in identity achievement.


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Thesis Completion



Bachelor of Science (B.S.)


College of Arts and Sciences

Degree Program



Arts and Sciences -- Dissertations, Academic;Dissertations, Academic -- Arts and Sciences







Access Status

Open Access

Length of Campus-only Access


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Honors in the Major Thesis

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