Nav: Home

Personality traits 'contagious' among children

February 03, 2017

EAST LANSING, Mich. - When preschoolers spend time around one another, they tend to take on each others' personalities, indicates a new study by Michigan State University psychology researchers.

The study, published online in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, suggests personality is shaped by environment and not just genes.

"Our finding, that personality traits are 'contagious' among children, flies in the face of common assumptions that personality is ingrained and can't be changed," said Jennifer Watling Neal, associate professor of psychology and co-investigator on the study. "This is important because some personality traits can help children succeed in life, while others can hold them back."

The researchers studied two preschool classes for an entire school year, analyzing personality traits and social networks for one class of 3-year-olds and one class of 4-year-olds.

Children whose play partners were extroverted or hard-working became similar to these peers over time. Children whose play partners were overanxious and easily frustrated, however, did not take on these particular traits. The study is the first to examine these personality traits in young children over time.

Emily Durbin, study co-investigator and associate professor of psychology, said kids are having a bigger effect on each other than people may realize.

"Parents spend a lot of their time trying to teach their child to be patient, to be a good listener, not to be impulsive," Durbin said. "But this wasn't their parents or their teachers affecting them - it was their friends. It turns out that 3- and 4-year-olds are being change agents."

MSU doctoral students Allison Gornik and Sharon Lo co-authored the study.
-end-


Michigan State University

Related Personality Articles:

Personality may change when you drink, but less than you think
People typically report substantive changes to their personality when they become intoxicated, but observations from outsiders suggest less drastic differences between 'sober' and 'drunk' personalities, according to research published in Clinical Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.
Birds choose their neighbors based on personality
Birds of a feather nest together, according to a new study which has found that male great tits (Parus major) choose neighbours with similar personalities to their own.
Personality factors are best defense against losing your job to a robot
New research has found that IQ, along with an early interest in the arts and sciences, predicts who is likely to fall victim to automation in the workplace.
Are looks more important than personality when choosing a man?
When mothers and daughters have to choose potential partners, they do not look much further than skin deep.
Couples, friends show similarity in personality traits after all
Friends and romantic partners tend to have certain characteristics in common, such as age, education, and even intelligence -- and yet, research has long suggested that personality isn't one of these commonalities.
Personality traits 'contagious' among children
When preschoolers spend time around one another, they tend to take on each others' personalities, indicates a new study by Michigan State University psychology researchers.
Personality traits linked to differences in brain structure
Our personality may be shaped by how our brain works, but in fact the shape of our brain can itself provide surprising clues about how we behave -- and our risk of developing mental health disorders -- suggests a study published today.
New personality model sets up how we see ourselves -- and how others see us
A new personality trait model co-developed by Brian Connelly could save employers money in hiring and retention costs.
You've got mail -- personality differences in email use
The results showed that those of us with a big picture focus are more likely to check our emails on holiday, at the weekend and before and after work than our more matter of fact counterparts.
Counseling, antidepressants change personality (for the better), team reports
A review of 207 studies involving more than 20,000 people found that those who engaged in therapeutic interventions were, on average, significantly less neurotic and a bit more extraverted after the interventions than they were beforehand.

Related Personality Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Setbacks
Failure can feel lonely and final. But can we learn from failure, even reframe it, to feel more like a temporary setback? This hour, TED speakers on changing a crushing defeat into a stepping stone. Guests include entrepreneur Leticia Gasca, psychology professor Alison Ledgerwood, astronomer Phil Plait, former professional athlete Charly Haversat, and UPS training manager Jon Bowers.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#524 The Human Network
What does a network of humans look like and how does it work? How does information spread? How do decisions and opinions spread? What gets distorted as it moves through the network and why? This week we dig into the ins and outs of human networks with Matthew Jackson, Professor of Economics at Stanford University and author of the book "The Human Network: How Your Social Position Determines Your Power, Beliefs, and Behaviours".