Original Article

Sex Roles

, Volume 57, Issue 9, pp 725-732

First online:

Are Female Action Heroes Risky Role Models? Character Identification, Idealization, and Viewer Aggression

  • Dara N. GreenwoodAffiliated withDepartment of Communication Studies, University of Michigan Email author 

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Although research has shown that affinity for aggressive media characters is linked to greater aggressive tendencies, the increasingly prevalent female action hero has received little empirical scrutiny to date. The present study surveyed 85 undergraduate women in Michigan, United States to determine whether identification with and/or idealization (wishful identification) of a favorite female action hero was associated with aggressive tendencies. Results show that behavioral idealization of an action hero was linked to increased self-reported aggressive behaviors and feelings. Behavioral identification (perceived similarity), by contrast, was not significantly associated with behavioral or affective aggression and showed an inverse relationship with relational aggression. Findings highlight the potentially distinct psychological mechanisms and consequences for idealizing vs. identifying with a favorite female action character.


Female action heroes Identification Idealization Aggression Media