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The evidence showed that child personality was associated with parents’ levels of education. More educated parents were more likely to have offspring who scored higher in trait Openness to Experience across almost every survey, and in the bulk of the samples more education was also associated with higher Extraversion and lower Neuroticism. A way to integrate and make sense of these three associations is that children of the more highly educated are more relaxed, outgoing and explorative; they are oriented to approaching the world rather than avoiding it.
The links between parental education and children’s personality were mediated by three factors that also give some insight into the reasons behind it all. First, parental education was associated more strongly with kids’ personality in families where the kids were also more highly educated. An obvious explanation for this finding would be that children’s personality is shaped by their own more intense education, however, previous research has found only weak evidence for this. It seems to me an alternative, if partial, explanation is that greater parental education usually has a beneficial effect on a child’s personality, but when a child withdraws from education much earlier than their parents – deviating from a script – this may indicate that they have more turmoil in their life, either as a cause or consequence of their educational decisions, and this may disrupt the personality benefits otherwise bestowed by an educated parent.Read original article