Negative Adult Influences and the Protective Effects of Role Models: A Study with Urban Adolescents

  • Noelle M. HurdEmail author
  • Marc A. Zimmerman
  • Yange Xue
Empirical Research


We investigated whether role models (individuals adolescents look up to) contributed to the resilience of adolescents who were exposed to negative nonparental adult influences. Our sample included 659 African American, ninth-grade adolescents. We found that adolescents’ exposure to negative adult behavior was associated with increased externalizing, internalizing, and substance using behaviors, as well as more negative school attitudes and behavior. We found that role models had protective effects on externalizing and internalizing behaviors and compensatory effects on school outcomes. Collectively, our findings indicate that role models can contribute to the resilience of African American adolescents who are exposed to negative nonparental adult behavior.


Resilience Adolescents Role models Negative adult influences 



We thank the youth for participating in this study and the Flint Community Schools for their support. We also thank the two anonymous reviewers for their comments on an earlier version of this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Noelle M. Hurd
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Marc A. Zimmerman
    • 2
  • Yange Xue
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  2. 2.Department of Health Behavior and Health Education, School of Public HealthUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  3. 3.Mathematica Policy Research, Inc.PrincetonUSA

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