Children and especially adolescents are influenced by role models. A role model can be described as a person who serves as an example to others and can determine the relationship with oneself and others, the behavior or habits of an individual. For youth, a role model is usually a parent or caregiver, a teacher, their peers, and even someone that they have not formed a relationship with, such as an athlete, a celebrity, and other characters from books or videos. Role models can be both positive and negative.
Albert Bandura (1977) proposed Social Learning Theory and pointed out that people observe, model and imitate the behaviors, attitudes and emotional reactions of others. He introduced the concept of observational learning based on which children observe other people, models, in their environment and shape their behavior accordingly, in similar situations. Of course, not all people or all behaviors are imitated by children. There are some mediational processes that intervene and can influence if a behavior will be imitated. These mediational processes are: