Naughty children are more likely to be left wing, study suggests


They say that old habits are the hardest to break.

New data published in Psychological Science reveals that, in terms of politics, this could certainly be true.

Analysis of information from more than 16,000 participants from two studies has revealed links between challenging behaviour in childhood and political discontent.

In other words, naughty children are more likely to be left-wing.

Study author Gary J. Lewis of Royal Holloway, University of London, said:

Findings from both studies indicate that children who showed higher levels of conduct problems – that is, aggression, fighting, stealing from peers – were more likely to be economically left leaning and distrustful of the political system as adults.

Some, but not all, of this link was explained by educational attainment and socioeconomic status in adulthood.

As part of these landmark studies, which span more than two decades, participants' parents completed an assessment of their children's behaviour when the children were either five or seven years old.

At age 30 or 33, the participants completed measures that gauged their economic conservatism, political cynicism, racism, authoritarianism and attitudes about gender inequality.

The studies also included data about the parents' social class and the participants' childhood intelligence, educational attainment and social class in adulthood.

Lewis found that childhood conduct problems were associated with economic or political discontent in adulthood, even after parental social class and childhood intelligence were taken into account.

He notes that conduct problems in childhood may represent an early rejection of authority, which could lead to economic or political discontent.

He concludes:

We all wonder from time to time why it is that those on the other side of the fence came to be that way.

These findings take us a little further down the road to answering that question

TB: EurekAlert

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