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Children inherit which personality trait?

NowToLove logo NowToLove 16/7/2017 Katie Skelly

© Provided by Bauer Media Pty Ltd If you consider yourself a good friend, supportive partner and all-round caring person, then you have your parents to thank.

We already know which facial features are most likely to reflect that of your parents (read: it was unavoidable for you not to inherit your father’s big nose – thanks for that one, dad), but a new study has found that the one personality trait you’re most likely to take on is in fact kindness.

Researchers from the Royal Holloway, University of London and other establishments across Europe set out to discover just which characteristics were passed on from your parents, to you.

To reach their conclusion, the teams studied over 400 families as they sorted images of adults and children with accompanying statements about their values, into how much they resonated with each.

They found that children whose parents wanted for them to be helpful, supporting and caring were more similar in value profile to their mums and dads than those whose parents endorsed striving for power and achievement.

"We often take for granted 'like father, like son' and this is especially interesting when it comes to the inheritance of destructive values such as power-seeking and selfishness,” co-author Professor Anat Bardi of Royal Holloway said.

“We've now demonstrated that parents who foster more altruistic values, such as helping and caring more strongly pass on all their values down the family line."

And it wasn’t just kindness these kids took away from their mothers and fathers. Parents who focus on prosocial values were also found to be more sensitive to their child’s needs, which formed a stronger bond in the long run and promoted behavioural traits such as curiosity and tradition.

"This research really shows that where parents nurture positive, supportive and altruistic values their children will also take these characteristics to heart. Where being 'the best' is among the dominant interests of the parents, children tend not to express such connection to their parent's values,” says Bardi.

"While there are always other influences on how we develop the values that make us who we are, there is no doubt that our parents have a huge role to play. How we then decide to take their values through our lives is, of course up to us as individuals."

Cheers, mum and dad!

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