The Psychology Behind Choosing Your Role Models
Awareness Motivation

The Psychology Behind Choosing Your Role Models


Simply put, a role model is someone people look up to and serve as an example of, frequently considering them to be someone worthy of imitation. Every stage of life has role models, but children and young people are typically most influenced by these individuals. Although celebrities, athletes, and other noteworthy people are often thought of as role models, role models can also be people who live closer to home. While many people consider one or both of their parents or caregivers to be role models, students frequently view teachers in this same light.

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Why are Role Models so important?

Although we don’t normally think about it, our most valuable life lessons come from our role models, whose deeds have a significant impact on us. If you go back, you probably can’t help but think of a moment, good or terrible, when you copied someone you looked up to, like a sports star or someone else. The fundamental reason role models are so vital is because they have the greatest influence on children and young adults. Good role models inspire us to strive for the standards they have set and have an impact on our behavior, frequently in the form of imitation. This is the reason why having role models is crucial. Sometimes a positive role model can have an even greater impact on a youngster or young person.

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Let’s Discuss What Role Models Do

One cannot stress the importance of having a positive role model in one’s life, particularly for young children. Let’s examine a few of the responsibilities of a role model.

1. Encourage and Motivate:

Most role models attempt to lead by example because they have the desire, capacity, and platform to motivate future generations. Everybody has challenges—children, teens, and adults included—and witnessing their heroes overcome obstacles may be encouraging and motivating. This is particularly true for those who experience discrimination due to a handicap, sexual orientation, or race. In situations like these, role models can encourage people to have trust and confidence in their ability to accomplish their goals despite the challenges they face. Someone with a similar impairment who feels they can’t accomplish their ambitions can benefit greatly from the example of a disabled athlete who goes on to win a world championship.

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2. Virtuous actions and routines:

As previously discussed, role models play a crucial role in fostering positive behaviors and habits in individuals, particularly young children who are always learning. Since most kids look up to their parents as role models, parents must be perceived as providing a positive example for their kids to follow to form healthy behaviors. If you were with your child and you dropped a piece of litter, for instance, you wouldn’t just disregard it; you would know that your youngster might do the same.

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3. Establishing and accomplishing objectives:

In addition to giving people a blueprint for success, role models can assist individuals in setting and achieving lofty objectives by frequently exhibiting the behavior needed to accomplish those objectives, even if they are in entirely unrelated fields. A child who witnesses a parent working hard and accomplishing their goals, for instance, is more likely to follow in that footsteps.

After discussing what a role model is, why they matter, and what they do, it’s time to learn how to be a good role model for others. These are only a few of the actions you may do to ensure that you provide a positive example for the people in your life.

  • Look after yourself: Making healthy lifestyle choices is essential if you want to be a good role model since it’s always crucial to get the basics right. Living a healthy lifestyle involves a variety of factors, such as making sure you’re getting enough sleep, eating the correct meals, and exercising regularly. These may seem insignificant, but they can significantly impact and establish some high standards for a youngster or someone who looks up to you.

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  • Tell the truth about your life: Since everyone makes errors, it’s critical to own up to the things you’ve done in the past that you’re embarrassed by. One of the most essential ways you can teach those who look up to your humility is to be honest about the mistakes you’ve made and how you fixed them. Being a “perfect” role model for others may seem like a wonderful idea, but it sets unattainable expectations for everyone who looks up to you.
  • Commence early: Being a role model is something you should do at any age, especially if you’re a parent. From an early age, set a positive example and begin teaching moral principles. For instance, if your child punches another child, teach them that this behavior is unacceptable, explain why, and discuss the potential repercussions of their conduct. It’s never too late, remember that. Try to set an example for your younger sister who has a propensity for misbehaving. People of all ages can be inspired by role models.
  • Pay attention well: You don’t have to be a teacher all the time. Recall that being an excellent listener can contribute to becoming a wonderful role model for your friends, kids, and other people. Everyone has something to say, but you can demonstrate the importance of listening and learning by taking into account what others have to say. Additionally, you might pick up something that improves your role modeling, which is advantageous to both you and the people who look up to you.

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  • Remain upbeat: Remaining upbeat is a crucial and admirable quality that will help your child and everyone else who looks up to you. When faced with a challenge, make an effort to stay optimistic. That doesn’t mean you have to be unrealistic; instead, try to view obstacles as just that—challenges, not the end of the world.
  • Be truthful: It’s critical to remain authentic. Strive to be a decent person and provide an example for others to follow. You will, however, inevitably have moments of anger, and that’s okay too—even role models go through phases when they’re not superheroes. You should be able to demonstrate that you are simply human as long as you healthily handle unpleasant emotions and feelings.

Albert Bandura’s theory

According to social learning theory, which was first put out by psychologist Albert Bandura, learning happens through imitation, modeling, and observation and is impacted by a variety of elements including motivation, attention, emotions, and attitudes. The relationship between cognitive and environmental factors that influence learning is taken into consideration by the theory.

According to the hypothesis, people learn by seeing the results of other people’s actions. Beyond behavioral theories—which contend that all actions are acquired through conditioning—and cognitive theories—which take into account psychological factors like attention and memory—Bandura’s thesis goes beyond them. People either directly witness behavior through social interactions with others or indirectly through media, according to Bandura. Rewarding actions are more likely to be mimicked, but punishing actions are more likely to be avoided.

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What Is Social Learning Theory?

In the initial part of the 1900s, the behavioral school of psychology rose to prominence. According to behaviorist theories, association and reinforcement processes lead directly to firsthand contact with the environment, which is the source of all learning. According to Bandura’s hypothesis, not all forms of learning can be explained by direct reinforcement. For instance, learning is frequently demonstrated by both adults and children for topics they have no firsthand experience with. You would probably know what to do if someone handed you a bat and instructed you to try hitting a baseball, even if you have never touched one before.

This is because you have witnessed others—in person or on television—do this activity.Bandura’s social learning theory stated that learning may also happen by merely seeing the activities of others, contrary to the behavioral theories of learning which proposed that all learning was the consequence of associations made by conditioning, reward, and punishment. His approach introduced a social component by contending that seeing others might teach people new skills and habits. This kind of learning, referred to as observational learning, may be used to explain a broad range of actions, including ones that are frequently unaccounted for by other learning theories.

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Core Concepts of Social Learning Theory

The social learning hypothesis is based on three main ideas. The first is the notion that observation is a useful tool for learning. The idea that internal mental states are a crucial component of this process comes next. Last but not least, this approach acknowledges that knowledge alone does not guarantee that it will influence conduct. In Bandura’s 1977 book Social Learning Theory, he argued that learning would be very dangerous and time-consuming if people were to learn what they needed to know from the results of their activities.

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People Can Learn Through Observation

A doll named Bobo was used in one of the most well-known psychological studies in history. Children pick up on and mimic the actions they see in other individuals, as illustrated by Bandura. In Bandura’s research, kids saw an adult behaving aggressively toward a Bobo doll. Upon being granted permission to play in a room with the Bobo doll thereafter, the kids started to mimic the hostile behaviors they had seen before.

Three fundamental models of observant learning were recognized by Bandura:

  1. A live model is a real person performing or displaying a behavior.
  2. A verbal teaching model, which includes behavior descriptions and explanations;
  3. A symbolic model, which uses actual or fictitious characters exhibiting behaviors in books, movies, television shows, or online media.

As you can see, observing someone else do an activity is not even a prerequisite for observational learning. Learning can occur when instructions are heard aloud, like while listening to a podcast. Reading, listening, or observing the deeds of fictional characters in literature and movies may also teach us new things. This kind of observational learning has become a contentious topic as psychologists and parents argue over the influence of pop culture media on children. Many are concerned that violent video games, films, TV shows, and internet videos might teach children negative traits like hostility.

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Important Elements of Successful Social Learning

The success of social learning may depend on variables that affect both the learner and the model. Some other prerequisites and procedures must be followed. The process of observational learning and modeling involves the following steps:

  • Observation: You have to be paying attention to learn. Anything that diverts your focus will hinder your ability to learn via observation. You are far more likely to give learning your whole attention if the model is engaging or if there is anything new about the scenario.
  • Retention: Another crucial aspect of learning is the capacity to store knowledge. Many factors influence retention, but one essential component of observational learning is the capacity to retrieve and act upon knowledge at a later time.
  • Reproduction: Now that you have focused on the model and internalized the knowledge, it’s time to carry out the behavior you saw. Additional application of the acquired behavior results in enhancement and competency progression.
  • Motivation: Lastly, you need to be motivated to copy the modeled behavior for observational learning to be successful. Punishment and reinforcement are key components of motivation.
  • Seeing others receive reinforcement or punishment may be just as powerful as really experiencing these motivators. Should you witness a fellow student get additional credit for punctuality, you may decide to arrive at class a few minutes ahead of schedule every day.


Good role models inspire us to strive for the standards they have set and have an impact on our behavior, frequently in the form of imitation. This is the reason why having role models is crucial. Sometimes, a positive role model has an even greater impact on a kid or young person than parents do. Having a role model is important because they can provide motivation, inspiration, and support. Your ideal role model should be someone who shares your beliefs and values. You can be sure that you are praising someone who, in this sense, embodies your values. It’s easy to see why positive role models are important. A child who has a positive role model is more likely to emulate that person’s constructive behavior. Positive role models play a crucial role in a child’s development since they help them pick up attitudes and behaviors that can last a lifetime.

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