Your Childhood Personality Predicts Who You Will be as an Adult

Ron Howard then, as Opie in the popular Andy Griffith
television show, and now, a successful director and producer.
Any parent or grandparent will tell you.  The personality of your children is pretty well set in stone from an early age.  I have two sons, each with a distinct personality that existed or perhaps pre-existed their early years and became more so as they grew.

I have four grandchildren or step-grandchildren, and each is as different as you can imagine.  So the news in this study published in 2010, isn't exactly news.  But it is important for an author or screenwriter to bear in mind while crafting character.

Short of traumatic brain injury, what you see in the child is what you'll get in the adult.

Here's the story, with a link to the original research in the attribution.
*  *  *  *  *

Childhood personality traits predict adult behavior:
We remain recognizably the same person, study suggests
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Personality traits observed in childhood are a strong predictor of adult behavior, a study by researchers at the University of California, Riverside, the Oregon Research Institute and University of Oregon suggests.

Using data from a 1960s study of approximately 2,400 ethnically diverse elementary schoolchildren in Hawaii, researchers compared teacher personality ratings of the students with videotaped interviews of 144 of those individuals 40 years later.

What they discovered was surprising, said Christopher S. Nave, lead author of the paper.  "We remain recognizably the same person," Nave said. "This speaks to the importance of understanding personality because it does follow us wherever we go across time and contexts."

"We think that personality resides within us," Nave said. "It's a part of us, a part of our biology. Life events still influence our behaviors, yet we must acknowledge the power of personality in understanding future behavior as well."

The researchers examined four personality attributes -- verbally fluent, adaptable, impulsive and self-minimizing and found that:
  • Youngsters identified as verbally fluent -- defined as unrestrained talkativeness -- tended, as middle-aged adults, to display interest in intellectual matters, speak fluently, try to control the situation, and exhibit a high degree of intelligence. Children rated low in verbal fluency by their teachers were observed as adults to seek advice, give up when faced with obstacles, and exhibit an awkward interpersonal style.
  • Children rated as highly adaptable -- defined as coping easily and successfully with new situations -- tended, as middle-aged adults, to behave cheerfully, speak fluently and show interest in intellectual matters. Those who rated low in adaptability as children were observed as adults to say negative things about themselves, seek advice and exhibit an awkward interpersonal style.
  • Students rated as impulsive as adults were inclined to speak loudly, display a wide range of interests and be talkative. Those who were rated low on impulsivity were observed, as adults, to be fearful or timid, keep others at a distance and express insecurity.
  • Children whose teachers rated them as having a tendency to self-minimize -- defined as humble, minimizing their own importance or never showing off -- as adults were likely to express guilt, seek reassurance, say negative things about themselves and express insecurity. Those who were ranked low as self-minimizing were observed as adults to speak loudly, show interest in intellectual matters and exhibit condescending behavior.
Related stories:
Story Source:  Materials provided by University of California - Riverside. C. S. Nave, R. A. Sherman, D. C. Funder, S. E. Hampson, L. R. Goldberg. On the Contextual Independence of Personality: Teachers' Assessments Predict Directly Observed Behavior After Four Decades. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 2010


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