A recent study has found that young children learn each others’ personality traits when they spend a lot of time around other preschoolers.
Researchers from Michgan State University’s psychology department studied two preschool classes for an entire school year. They found that social networks and personality traits of 3 and 4 year olds became similar as time passed.
“Our finding, that personality traits are ‘contagious’ among children, flies in the face of common assumptions that personality is ingrained and can’t be changed,” Jennifer Watling Neal, associate professor of psychology and co-author of the study said. “This is important because some personality traits can help children succeed in life, while others can hold them back.”
Children whose peers were hard working or extroverted modeled those same traits. Children whose peers were anxious and frustrated did not take those personality traits.
The results of the study, co-authored by doctoral students Allison Gornik and Sharon Lo, indicated that the influence children have on each other is bigger than previously thought.