Significant individuals in adolescence: Adolescent and adult perspectives

Moshe Tatar*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


This study examines the ways in which 360 Israeli adolescents, and 395 midlife adults looking retrospectively perceive significant individuals from their adolescence. Following the methodology developed by Hendry et al., participants were asked to chose the most significant family and non-family individuals in their adolescent lives, and to indicate which of a number of characteristics applied or did not apply to their chosen significant persons. Our results indicate that most of the adults and the adolescents chose a parent as the most significant relative in their adolescence and that females in both samples chose their mothers more than did males. Compared with adolescents, adults attributed, retrospectively, more negative characteristics to their parents (e.g. as being mollycoddlers and rejectors). Adults were more likely to mention their teachers as significant non-family individuals in their lives and to characterize them in terms of their future impact as teachers and role models. Adolescents referred more positively to their parents, they also chose more friends of the same or opposite sex as significant others, and characterized them in terms of present-oriented features as being supporters and challengers. The results highlight the importance of analysing the meanings attributed to significant individuals in adolescence from the perspectives of different developmental stages.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)691-702
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Adolescence
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1998


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