Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Parenting and temperament in childhood predict later political ideology

Date:
October 22, 2012
Source:
Association for Psychological Science
Summary:
Political mindsets are the product of an individual's upbringing, life experiences, and environment. But are there specific experiences that lead a person to choose one political ideology over another? New research suggests that parenting practices and childhood temperament may play an influential role in shaping political ideology later in life.

Political mindsets are the product of an individual's upbringing, life experiences, and environment. But are there specific experiences that lead a person to choose one political ideology over another?

Related Articles


New research from psychological scientist R. Chris Fraley of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and colleagues suggest that parenting practices and childhood temperament may play an influential role. Their study is published online in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

Existing research suggests that individuals whose parents espoused authoritarian attitudes toward parenting (e.g., valuing obedience to authority) are more likely to endorse conservative values as adults. And theory from political psychology on motivated social cognition suggests that children who have fearful temperaments may be more likely to hold conservative ideologies as adults. Unfortunately, almost all of the existing research looking at these two factors suffers from significant methodological shortcomings. Specifically, the majority of this research has been retrospective -- relying on adult's recollections of their early temperaments and their early caregiving experiences.

To better understand the developmental antecedents of political ideology, Fraley and his colleagues examined data from 708 children who originally participated in the National Institute on Child Health and Human Development's (NICHD) Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development (SECCYD).

When the children in the study were one month old, their parents answered questions from the Parental Modernity Inventory. Fraley and colleagues used their responses to determine the degree to which the parents demonstrated authoritarian (e.g., "Children should always obey their parents") and egalitarian parenting attitudes (e.g., "Children should be allowed to disagree with their parents").

The dataset also included mothers' assessments of their children's temperaments when they were 4.5 years old, using questions from the Children's Behavior Questionnaire. From these assessments, the researchers identified five temperament factors: restlessness-activity, shyness, attentional focusing, passivity, and fear.

Consistent with theory from political psychology, Fraley and colleagues found that children with authoritarian parents were more likely to have conservative attitudes at age 18, even after accounting for their gender, ethnic background, cognitive functioning, and socioeconomic status. Children who had parents with egalitarian parenting attitudes, on the other hand, were more likely to hold liberal attitudes as young adults.

In terms of temperament, children with higher levels of fearfulness at 54 months were more likely to be conservative at age 18, while children with higher levels of activity or restlessness and higher levels of attentional focusing were more likely to espouse liberal values at that age.

The researchers argue that their work has wide-ranging implications for understanding the variation in political orientation. According to Fraley, "One of the significant challenges in psychological science is understanding the multiple pathways underlying personality development. Our research suggests that variation in how people feel about diverse topics, ranging from abortion, military spending, and the death penalty, can be traced to both temperamental differences that are observable as early as 54 months of age, as well as variation in the attitudes people's parents have about child rearing and discipline." They believe that an important direction for future research will be to delve deeper into exploring the underlying mechanisms -- including shared genetic variation and parent-child conflict -- that might link parenting attitudes and temperament to later political ideology.

"We hope that this work will help enrich theory at the interface of political and personality science but also underscore the value of studying these issues from a developmental perspective," the authors write.

The study was co-authored by Brian Griffin of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Jay Belsky of the University of California, Davis, King Abdulaziz University, and Birkbeck, University of London; and Glenn Roisman at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Association for Psychological Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. R. C. Fraley, B. N. Griffin, J. Belsky, G. I. Roisman. Developmental Antecedents of Political Ideology: A Longitudinal Investigation From Birth to Age 18 Years. Psychological Science, 2012; DOI: 10.1177/0956797612440102

Cite This Page:

Association for Psychological Science. "Parenting and temperament in childhood predict later political ideology." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 October 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121022162655.htm>.
Association for Psychological Science. (2012, October 22). Parenting and temperament in childhood predict later political ideology. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 26, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121022162655.htm
Association for Psychological Science. "Parenting and temperament in childhood predict later political ideology." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121022162655.htm (accessed November 26, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Are Female Bosses More Likely To Be Depressed?

Are Female Bosses More Likely To Be Depressed?

Newsy (Nov. 24, 2014) — A new study links greater authority with increased depressive symptoms among women in the workplace. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Winter Can Cause Depression — Here's How To Combat It

Winter Can Cause Depression — Here's How To Combat It

Newsy (Nov. 23, 2014) — Millions of American suffer from seasonal depression every year. It can lead to adverse health effects, but there are ways to ease symptoms. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) — Researchers in Beijing discovered a gene called 5-HTA1, and carriers are reportedly 20 percent more likely to be single. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Milestone Birthdays Can Bring Existential Crisis, Study Says

Milestone Birthdays Can Bring Existential Crisis, Study Says

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) — Researchers find that as people approach new decades in their lives they make bigger life decisions. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins