Publication 2184

Gash H. & Bajd B. (2005) Young people’s heroes in Ireland and Slovenia. Irish Journal of Psychology 26: 137–148. Fulltext at
Children’s self concepts are important constructions of their experience in childhood. Following Ernst von Glasersfeld’s approach, self concepts are personal organisations of self-other experiences. Heroes reflect what the child has chosen as important and so offer insight into how the child has selected values in her culture. Digital culture is becoming increasingly global and accessible. It is important to see how participation in the European Union (EU) global economic culture is changing young people’s self-images. Representations of heroic figures in questionnaires given to Irish (n = 239) and Slovenian (n = 389) samples of 15-year-olds were examined to assess the extent to which heroes originated in film and television, and whether the heroic figures were local or global personalities. The degree to which age and gender influence choice of hero was examined within the Irish sample, which also included 10-year-olds (n = 316). There is strong evidence that heroes in this sample were largely learned about on film and television, since family or community heroes were a minority (Ireland 23%, Slovenia 17%). Children chose male heroes more often than female heroes, though a child’s sex was associated with sex of hero chosen. Family, sport and musical heroes were more important in Ireland than Slovenia, and audio-visual heroes were more important in Slovenia. In the digital age the sequence for acquisition of hero type reported in the pre-television era – proximal (family and community) to distal (beyond the neighbourhood) – seems to have disappeared. Relevance: People’s heroes play an important role in their identity. Cultural differences are reflected in the choices made by this sample of young Irish and Slovene participants.


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