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Developmental Differences in Younger and Older Adolescents’ Understanding of Heroism
Unformatted Document Text:  7 children to greatness” (Anderson & Cavallaro, 2000), or conversely, cultivate aggressive and anti-social behaviors (Bandura, Ross & Ross, 1963). It is this ability for superheroes to teach antisocial, aggressive behaviors that is at the heart of the debate about curbing children’s exposure to aggressive, television programs (Calvert, 1999). What qualities do children look for in their role models? Gender is one important consideration. Children look for content that is “for them,” and gender is one important piece of this determination (Bandura et al., 1963; Calvert, 1999). For example, girls are more likely to choose girls and women as role models whereas boys tend to select boys and men (Anderson & Cavallaro, 2000). Personal attributes are another factor that influences role model selection. In the Anderson and Cavallaro study (2000), most children said they chose their heroes because they are nice, helpful, and understanding. For young women, the perception of self- efficacy in a female heroic character increased the character’s attractiveness as a role model, and for both young men and women, the perception of the heroic character as a nurturer was positively related to selecting her as a role model (Calvert et al., 2001). Influence of Age on the Comprehension of Narrative Children’s understanding of television programs and movies depends on their age. Although comprehension of televised narratives reaches maturity around age 10 (Calvert,1999; Collins, 1983; Wartella, 1980), the major themes of movies may require a higher level of abstraction, as they involve complicated and abstract psychological conflicts such as the conflict between a character’s conscience and their shadow. Even during adolescence, comprehension of extremely abstract moral principles, such as forgiveness over revenge and the nuances of good and evil as relative rather than absolute

Authors: Zehnder, Sean. and Calvert, Sandra.
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children to greatness” (Anderson & Cavallaro, 2000), or conversely, cultivate aggressive
and anti-social behaviors (Bandura, Ross & Ross, 1963). It is this ability for superheroes
to teach antisocial, aggressive behaviors that is at the heart of the debate about curbing
children’s exposure to aggressive, television programs (Calvert, 1999). What qualities do
children look for in their role models?
Gender is one important consideration. Children look for content that is “for
them,” and gender is one important piece of this determination (Bandura et al., 1963;
Calvert, 1999). For example, girls are more likely to choose girls and women as role
models whereas boys tend to select boys and men (Anderson & Cavallaro, 2000).
Personal attributes are another factor that influences role model selection. In the
Anderson and Cavallaro study (2000), most children said they chose their heroes because
they are nice, helpful, and understanding. For young women, the perception of self-
efficacy in a female heroic character increased the character’s attractiveness as a role
model, and for both young men and women, the perception of the heroic character as a
nurturer was positively related to selecting her as a role model (Calvert et al., 2001).
Influence of Age on the Comprehension of Narrative
Children’s understanding of television programs and movies depends on their age.
Although comprehension of televised narratives reaches maturity around age 10
(Calvert,1999; Collins, 1983; Wartella, 1980), the major themes of movies may require a
higher level of abstraction, as they involve complicated and abstract psychological
conflicts such as the conflict between a character’s conscience and their shadow. Even
during adolescence, comprehension of extremely abstract moral principles, such as
forgiveness over revenge and the nuances of good and evil as relative rather than absolute


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