Before our sons or daughters were born we wondered about their personalities.
Will he or she be smart? Funny? Geez. What if this child wants nothing to do with us — or anyone — like what’s-his-name’s kid?
For all the afternoon commercials for ABCmouse and smart baby apps, you’d think that intelligence would be the most prized.
But according to a survey of 142 mothers with infants 0-12 months, intelligence rated only 10 percent as the most important personality trait.
Mothers were asked to rank what’s known as the BIG 5 personality traits: intelligence, extroversion, conscientiousness, agreeableness, neuroticism and openness to new experiences. The survey was recently published in the journal “Personality and Individual Differences.”
What moms most want
The University of London study found that what British mothers most want is a child that’s sociable or that has the extroversion trait. A whopping 51 percent chose this trait.
The study’s lead researcher, Dr. Sophie von Stumm, a senior lecturer in psychology at Goldsmiths, University of London, said it was perplexing that intelligence at 10 percent and conscientiousness at 9 percent were so undervalued by mothers in the study.
“Given that higher levels of intelligence and conscientiousness are both linked to positive life outcomes such as success at school, at work, and in relationships, it’s surprising that only one in 10 mothers valued them as the most important characteristics for their child.”
Sociable kids, adult problems?
While this study is about mothers attitudes across the pond, would it be that different if the mothers polled were in the U.S.?
The study’s lead researcher, von Stumm, went onto say that although mothers may be imagining an extroverted child who always has a seat at the lunch table surrounded by friends, the social child may grow up with other issues.
“While extroversion can have many benefits it is also associated with negative behaviors in adulthood, such as higher alcohol consumption and illegal drug use.
About 20 percent chose agreeableness. Another 10 percent chose an openness for new experiences.
None of the mothers, not surprisingly, chose neuroticism as a trait they wished on their child, which is one of the big five personality traits but is associated with feelings of anxiety, fear, anger and guilt.