Do Personality Traits “Contagious” Among Children

How do personality traits develop? 

Personality Traits

The debate over whether or not personality is inherited or shaped by the environment continues. Until now, the issue of nature and nurture is not yet resolved. Developmental studies continually reap inconsistent results. Some studies suggest that genes are predictors of traits. While others believe it’s the environment that shapes behavior.

What predicts personality traits?

Which factor is stronger than the other? One latest study found that environmental forces are stronger than genes. Jennifer Watling Neal, Emily Durbin and Andy Henion conducted a study on children’s personality traits. In the study, the researchers examined two groups of children. The first group consisted of three years old.  And the second consisted of four years old.

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

The finding is helpful in understanding children’s personality development. Oftentimes we ask what makes children behave the way they do. Through psychological and scientific investigations we can now have a better understanding.

The researchers further elaborate their findings.

“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.”

Children learn personality traits from their peers. The finding gives clue to parents and educators. For parents, if possible, they should be careful in letting their child socialize with other children. Bearing in mind that peers can greatly influence their son or daughter’s personality.

Thus, if you want your child to develop into a good individual, do not allow him/her to mingle with children who have undesirable behaviors. Otherwise, your offspring will more likely develop bad behavior too.

However, even though the latest finding conveys promising knowledge, the truth remains that personality traits are multidimensional. There might be other factors that influence personality development. And gene is one of them.

Nonetheless, the finding can be helpful in designing behavioral interventions. Developmental psychologists and policy makers can now develop a more effective guideline to correct or minimize children’s undesirable behaviors.

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