Are You My Role Model? How Role Model Similarity Affects Motivation



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The purpose of this study was to examine how to best utilize role models for motivation. In an expansion of Lockwood, Jordan, and Kunda's (2002) study, I tested the effects of regulatory goal focus (RGF) congruence on motivation, and of participant and role model demographic similarity. Based on Self-Categorization theory, I expected similarity to be more motivating. By manipulating regulatory goal focus (promotion or prevention), role model type (positive or negative), and demographic similarity between participants and role models, I could test exactly how each of these variables affect motivation. Demographically similar and RGF congruent role models (promotion goal focus paired with positive role models and prevention goal focus paired with negative role models) did not yield higher motivation scores. Instead, those who were either promotion primed or assigned a positive role model were most motivated. I also expected those high in Openness to be less affected by dissimilarity but found only Openness to be positively related to motivation scores. While these results were counter to Lockwood et al.’s (2002) results and expectations set by Self-Categorization theory, it is possible that the diverse, urban, Southern university student population was already used to sex and gender differences in role models to the point that identification with role models was made based on a subordinate-level of categorization, such status as a student. This study should be replicated at a less diverse university to test this conclusion and investigate the lack of evidence we found for Lockwood et al.’s (2002) RGF congruence hypothesis.



Motivation, Role models, Race and Gender