Document Type



The function of role models in the lives of adolescents has been linked to many positive outcomes, including academic success and enhanced physical activity (Assibey-Mensah, 1997; Babey, Wolstein, & Diamant, 2016); however, it remains unclear who adolescents and young adults are seeking and identifying as role models. This two-part interdisciplinary project started with literary analyses of a memoir and semi-autobiographical novel that depicted the experience of two African American male adolescents and their exploration of identity; during this time, each male developed the desire for a role model whose behavior he could imitate. The second part of this project included psychological life-story interviews with ten self-identified African American male college students in order to further examine the presence and/or absence of role models and stereotypes. A qualitative thematic analysis of the interviews revealed that African American male participants described six types of role models: explicit, implicit, direct, indirect, positive, and negative. Choosing celebrities, father, and teachers, the participants identified role models who helped each male view himself outside of social constructs and/or stereotypes. Overall, the goal of this study is to suggest ways in which researchers can continue to investigate the function of role models in African American male identity development in order to provide a better service to young Black males who are exploring their identity.




Thesis Comittee

Dr. Kimberly Davis, Thesis Advisor

Dr. Joseph Schwab, Thesis Advisor

Dr. John Calicchia, Committee Member

Dr. Joyce Rain Anderson, Committee Member

Dr. Nesa Wasarhaley, Committee Member

Copyright and Permissions

Original document was submitted as an Honors Program requirement. Copyright is held by the author.