February 27, 2009

Celebrities not really youth role models

Celebrities are often labeled as role models of youth but U.S. researchers say they have little influence on young people, unlike family negative role models.

Brenda McDaniel of Kansas State University worked with colleagues at Oklahoma State University-Tulsa surveyed 30 boys and girls, ages 7-14, from Boys and Girls clubs in Manhattan, Kan., and in Tulsa categorized as having a lower socioeconomic status, lower academic outcomes and being at-risk.

The study asked students whom they considered to be their role models or wanted to be like and whom they considered to be their anti-role models or didn't want to be like.

The researchers said that although the youths reported their ideal selves being most like a positive family member and a positive peer, results showed students were most similar to a positive adult outside the family.

The researchers also found that negative family members are a strong influence on the moral traits of youths. Youth who were more like a family member they didn't want to be like had higher reports of relational aggression and also received higher forms of corporal punishment in the home, such as spanking.