New research by R. Chris Fraley of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign suggests that conservative adults were likely to be raised in a household with parents who were tougher authority figures. Kids who engaged in more activity and showed a general restlessness were more likely to vote liberal when they hit 18, while children who were intimidated often favored conservative politicians.
Based on the parents’ answers to questionnaires when the kids were 1 month old, the researchers determined which parents fell into the authoritarian camp (those who, for example, agreed with the statement “Children should always obey their parents”) and which ones were more egalitarian.
The researchers also looked at the mothers’ assessments of their kids’ temperaments at 4 1/2 years old and broke down childhood disposition with five factors: restlessness-activity, shyness, attentional focusing, passivity and fear.
Fraley and his team controlled for gender, race, socioeconomic status and cognitive functioning.
“One of the significant challenges in psychological science is understanding the multiple pathways underlying personality development,” Fraley said in a statement. “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.”
Via Discovery and the journal Psychological Science