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The Rich Get Richer – Looking Up to Role Models

I read an article that discusses the choice of role models. The writer uses baseball player Alex Rodriguez as a main example. He is incredibly famous and one of the most popular baseball players, but he was suspended for steroid use. The article proposes the idea that the most popular/successful people may not be the best role models. Researchers found that success is dependent on both skills and previous successes. Thus, the most popular/famous/successful people may not be the hardest workers. They certainly are very skilled, but they may have gotten a bit lucky with some success initially, and then became more successful as a result. Overall, the researchers actually found that on average, the most impressive/skilled/hardworking players were the moderately successful ones and not the most successful ones. Many of the most popular players become very famous due to luck and the rich-get-richer concept because people who have early successes are more likely to get resources and popularity.


This article is similar to the “rich get richer” concept in class. For example, Alex Rodriguez is a great baseball player, and many people saw him as a role model because he was very successful initially (and has continued to be a great player). Assume that baseball fans are like Web pages. As more people become baseball fans (analogous to Web pages being created), such as young kids who begin to follow baseball, they are more likely to pick the most popular role model (such as Alex Rodriguez). Since the probability of people picking Alex Rodriguez (a Web page) is proportional to his popularity, it is possible that he isn’t truly the best role model. He may not be the hardest working person or have the best morals (i.e. he was caught for steroid use). Even though this example isn’t the exact “rich get richer” model discussed in the textbook, it is similar. It isn’t the same because Alex Rodriguez and baseball fans, as well as other professional baseball players, are all assumed to be Web pages here. Nevertheless, the concept still makes sense in this scenario.


“Sometimes Second-Best Makes a Better Role Model”





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November 2015