Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


This theoretical study explores the impact of role models on the adolescent African American male identity development. The study examines the current vulnerable status of African American males in the United States and reveals how they are presently at an overwhelming disadvantage to lead fulfilling and productive lives. In order to understand the phenomenon, this study utilizes literature on general identity development, male identity development, and ethnic identity development, in order to investigate how African American males define themselves and how role models can impact their identity development. Since there is some evidence in current literature that imitation and modeling can indeed make a significant difference in the way that positive identity development occurs with African American males, this study also reviews literature on Social Learning Theory. The study concludes that the inclusion of adult African American male role models would be beneficial in breaking the cyclical pattern that African American males are caught up in, and which often results in their involvement in crime, drug abuse, and incarceration. The study also concludes that the implementation of mentoring programs in schools, as well as other institutions that serve this population, may clearly have a positive effect on both their identity development and their life goals. This study further concludes that mentoring by individuals from their local communities, with whom the youth find similarities, will be especially helpful. The presence of African American adult males in the lives of African American adolescent males will demonstrate to this disadvantaged population that the possibilities of success in this country are far more viable than they may otherwise believe, and that the negative stereotypes and images that are portrayed by the media in American society do not necessarily have to be applicable to them.


105 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)--Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2007. Includes bibliographical references (leaves 96-103).