Childhood chores not related to self-control development

November 05, 2019

Although assigning household chores is considered an essential component of child-rearing, it turns out they might not help improve children's self-control, a coveted personality trait that allows people to suppress inappropriate impulses, focus their attention and perform an action when there is strong tendency to avoid it. That's the finding of a new study published in the Journal of Research in Personality by University of Houston assistant professor of psychology, Rodica Damian in collaboration with Olivia Atherton, Katherine Lawson and Richard Robins from the University of California, Davis.

Damian examined data from the UC Davis California Families Project, a 10-year longitudinal study of Mexican-origin youth assessed at ages 10, 12, 14, 16 and 19, in which self-control was reported by the children and parents separately. Damian's team examined whether household chores and self-control co-developed from ages 10 to 16.

"We found no evidence of co-developmental associations between chores and effortful or self-control, with four out of four of our hypotheses receiving no empirical support," said Damian, who admits it was not the finding they expected. "These null effects were surprising given the strong lay conceptions and theoretical basis for our predictions." Still, she said, she would not use the results to discourage childhood chores.

"Maybe chores don't matter for personality development, but they still predict future chore behavior," said Damian. "It is a stable habit and having a tidy home is not something to ignore."

Previous research indicated that doing more homework was related to an increase in conscientiousness, a personality trait similar to self-control, prompting Damian to question whether household chores would have a similar effect on personality development. Despite recent advances in understanding the origin of self-control, no known research existed investigating the co-development of chores and self-control.

Damian and colleagues also explored a matter unrelated to household chores - whether initial levels of self-control at age 10, along with improved levels from age 10 to 16, predicted better work outcomes in young adulthood.

In this case the answer was yes. Both initial levels of self-control and increases in self-control predicted positive future job outcomes.

"We found that children who had higher self-control at age 10 had less job stress and better job fit nine years later. Additionally, children whose self-control showed positive changes from age 10 to 16 (regardless of their initial self-control level at age 10) had higher job satisfaction and job autonomy nine years later," said Damian. This is only the third study ever to examine whether changes in self-control predict better job outcomes.

"The results suggest that improving one's level of self-control, regardless of where you start, will help you later in life and that's important to know. It's an argument for striving to improve over time," said Damian.

University of Houston

Related Personality Articles from Brightsurf:

Infant temperament predicts personality more than 20 years later
Researchers investigating how temperament shapes adult life-course outcomes have found that behavioral inhibition in infancy predicts a reserved, introverted personality at age 26.

State of mind: The end of personality as we know it
In a study published today researchers propose that changing states of mind are holistic in that they exert all-encompassing and coordinated effects simultaneously on our perception, attention, thought, affect, and behavior.

Want to change your personality? It may not be easy to do alone
Most people want to change an aspect of their personality, but left to their own devices, they may not be successful in changing, research shows.

How personality predicts seeing others as sex objects
Several personality traits related to psychopathy -- especially being openly antagonistic -- predict a tendency to view others as merely sex objects, finds a study by psychologists at Emory University.

Scientists say you can change your personality
A review of recent research in personality science points to the possibility that personality traits can change through persistent intervention and major life events.

Personality traits affect retirement spending
How quickly you spend your savings in retirement may have as much or more to do with your personality than whether you have a lot of debt or want to leave an inheritance.

For the first time: A method for measuring animal personality
A study on mice shows animal research may need to take into account the connection between genes, behavior and personality.

Your spending data may reveal aspects of your personality
How you spend your money can signal aspects of your personality, according to research published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

The sun may have a dual personality, simulations suggest
A deep dive into the sun's interior provides new clues to the forces that govern that star's internal clock.

A personality test for ads
People leave digital footprints online, and this information could helps marketers personalize ads based on individual personality types.

Read More: Personality News and Personality Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to