Study: Tweens aim for fame above all else

CNN:

What do tweens value most?  If you are thinking honesty or self-acceptance think again.

What they value above everything else, according to a new study from the University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA), is fame.   Other individualistic values, such as financial success and physical fitness are also high on the wish list.

The study, published in the Journal of Psychology Research on Cyberspace, found children aged 9 to 11 now hold “fame” as their No. 1value.  Fame ranked 15th in 1997. This raises red flags for researchers, who say the shift in values over the last 10 years may have a negative effect on the future goals and accomplishments of American youth.

“(Tweens) are unrealistic about what they have to do to become famous,” Patricia Greenfield, Ph.D from the Department of Psychology at UCLA and co-author of this study told CNN. “They may give up on actually preparing for careers and realistic goals.”

“With Internet celebrities and reality TV stars everywhere, the pathway for nearly anyone to become famous, without a connection to hard work and skill, may seem easier than ever,” said Yalda Uhls, a UCLA doctoral student in developmental psychology and lead author of this study. “”When being famous and rich is much more important than being kind to others, what will happen to kids as they form their values and their identities?”

Read the whole story: CNN

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Comments

Neither the CNN article nor the study itself say that “children aged 9 to 11 now hold ‘fame’ as their No. 1 value.” They say that shows that children aged 9 to 11 watch now hold fame as their No. 1 value, and infer that children aged 9 to 11 also value fame more. Moreover, the study itself only examined the two most popular shows among such children during the eighth year of each decade (1967, 1977, and so on). For 2007 the most popular shows were American Idol and Hannah Montana, and both of these shows are inherently about a person or people seeking fame! It seems implausible that two UCLA psychologists would not be aware that merely using a sample of two shows – and these two in particular – to draw a conclusion like this is extremely inadequate, so clearly there must have been some bias present for them to act as if it were. I’m surprised that UCLA would tolerate such blatant bias, but that’s beside the point.

The most pertinent issue is that the writer has herein misinterpreted the basis of this study, which manifested in a very misleading article. I’m hoping that this was an honest mistake rather than an overt expression of bias on the part of this writer, but if it was a mistake it was a massive and fundamental mistake, so either way it’s quite appalling. I felt compelled to write this out of concern, because I’ve had much respect for this organization and it’s disheartening to see something so unrespectable.

In any case, this article needs to be updated to correct this inaccuracy.

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