LONDON — Who you are as a child may predict who you vote for on Election Day. A recent study out of the University of London suggests that our political beliefs in adulthood have direct correlations with our personalities children.
Study author Gary J. Lewis analyzed data from more than 16,000 participants in two longitudinal studies based in the United Kingdom. The data revealed links between conduct problems at ages five to seven and political and economic discontent 25 years later.
“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,” Lewis explains in a university release. “Some, but not all, of this link was explained by educational attainment and socioeconomic status in adulthood.”
The parents of the participants recorded their children’s behavior when they were five or seven years old, looking specifically for patterns of anxiety, personal conduct issues, and hyperactivity.
Then, when the participants were 30 or 33 years old, they completed questionnaires assessing political leanings and attitudes based on their economic conservatism, political cynicism, racism, authoritarianism, and gender equality attitudes. The researchers coalesced these factors into two main categories: economic and political discontent and social conservatism.
The studies also factored in the participants’ parents’ social class, as well as the participants’ childhood intelligence, educational attainment, and adult social class.
“We all wonder from time to time why it is that those on the other side of the fence came to be that way,” says Lewis. “These findings take us a little further down the road to answering that question.”
The study was published February 16, 2018 in the journal Psychological Science.