Reality television depicts average people rising rapidly to instant fame. Other media outlets, including YouTube and Facebook, provide people with the opportunity to gain the attention of a virtual audience with the push of a button. Young people today are bombarded with images of fictional fame, as in the case of Hannah Montana and other television characters, and real fame, through reality programming and media coverage of athletes, musicians and actors. But how has this phenomenon affected the aspirations of our youth? Yalda T. Uhls, of the Department of Psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles, wanted to find an answer to this question. Culturally, there are different views of fame. For instance, Uhls noted that boys from wealthier countries envision a successful man as one who is relaxing or engaged in sports. In contrast, boys from economically disadvantaged countries see an ideal adult man as one with a career and responsibilities.
In order to gauge the pulse of American adolescents, Uhls conducted five focus groups on 20 adolescents between the ages of 10 and 12. The results revealed that 40% of the participants stated that they aspired to be famous more than anything else. “In addition, many of the children believed that fame would mean that people liked them and knew who they were,” said Uhls. “When youth see messages about fame in nearly every aspect of their pervasive media environment—fictional TV programs, reality TV shows, sports programs, and online—coupled with same-age models who achieve fame, these aspirations could remain central.” Additionally, children believe they can achieve that fame through the media outlets that are available to them. Of primary concern to Uhls was the fact that the children who listed fame as their top aspiration did not list a skill that would allow them to achieve that fame, such as singing. “Fame is an aspiration that narcissists fantasize about achieving,” said Uhls. “Our findings suggest that the documented historical increase in narcissistic personality in emerging adults begins in the preadolescent years with a desire for fame.”
Uhls, Y. T., & Greenfield, P. M. (2011, December 19). The Value of Fame: Preadolescent Perceptions of Popular Media and Their Relationship to Future Aspirations. Developmental Psychology. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1037/a0026369
© Copyright 2012 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved.
The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.