Role models are important because they help guide people in the right direction as they make life decisions, they provide inspiration and support when needed, and they provide examples of how to live a fulfilling, happy life. When observing the behavior, decisions or actions of a role model, individuals learn how to display positive personality characteristics and moral traits.
Role models are especially important for youth. When faced with peer pressure, economic adversity, unsupportive environments and tough decisions, a role model can provide input and advice to a young person who may not have any direction or support from other sources. For a person suffering from mental and physical disabilities, a role model who has endured the same adversities or experiences can offer insight and help teach him how to cope with these struggles.
Older siblings or extended family members often serve as role models. In such cases, the role model has already established a close bond and trusting relationship with the person needing guidance. Role models can also be teachers, ministers, older siblings, professional athletes, successful business persons or counselors. Virtually anyone can serve as a role model and example for another person who is striving to achieve the success and established lifestyle the role model already has attained.