In Depth

Naughty children ‘more likely to be left-wing adults’

New study finds children who showed higher levels of conduct problems were more likely to be economically left-leaning

A new study has revealed that adults’ political leanings are linked to with their personality traits as a child.

The new data, published in Psychological Science and taken from more than 16,000 participants from two studies has revealed links between challenging behaviour in childhood and political discontent.

In other words, “naughty children are more likely to be left-wing”, says The Independent.

“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,” says study author Gary J. Lewis of Royal Holloway, University of London.

Lewis found that “childhood conduct problems were associated with economic or political discontent in adulthood, even after parental social class and childhood intelligence were taken into account”, says The Independent.

He notes that conduct problems in childhood “may represent an early rejection of authority, which could lead to economic or political discontent”.

These associations may be modest in strength, says Lewis, but they are stable over a 25-year span, suggesting early foundations of later political attitudes.

The researcher suggested that future studies with more detailed and frequent assessments could help explain the reasons behind the associations.

“We all wonder from time to time why it is that those on the other side of the fence came to be that way,” Lewis notes. “These findings take us a little further down the road to answering that question.”

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