Document Type

Research Paper


Approximately 62% of American teenagers can identify a person that they consider as their hero (Gash & Conway, 1997). High school students have more heroes than heroines (Balswick & lngoldsby, 1982) and males and females select heroes for different reasons (Bromnick & Swallow, 1999). Girls are more likely to choose media figures as their hero based on their looks, and boys are more likely to choose sports figures, based on their physical strength or ability. Little is known about the effect that having a hero has on adolescent development.

The current study is designed to explore the difference between those who have a hero and those who do not. It was hypothesized that identification with a hero is related to having a stronger sense of self. The study explored differences in self-concept between those who have a personal hero versus those who have a distant hero. Participants were high school students at an Iowa high school enrolled in science classes. All participants completed a questionnaire describing their hero and completed the Self-Perception Profile for Adolescents (Harter, 1989).

Those who said they had a hero rated themselves as less scholastically competent, as having more social acceptance, more athletic competence and more romantic appeal. Those who identified more strongly with a hero had a stronger sense of social acceptance (r=.27) and a stronger sense of romantic appeal (r-.24).

This research supports the notion that heroes are important to the development of an adolescent's sense of self. However, more research is needed in order to explore the various domains contained within an adolescent's sense of self.

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Conference Proceedings: Undergraduate Social Science Research Conference





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©2000 by the University of Northern Iowa



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University of Northern Iowa


Cedar Falls, IA