Personality: Product of Peers or Parents?

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Are our personalities the result of parental influence or peer influence? In 1995, Judith Rich Harris published papers claiming a child's peers are an even greater influence on a developing personality than his or her parents. Her theory, called the group socialization theory of development, has raised many questions as to its validity.

I'm not sure I agree with Harris. Our personalities are the result of a number of factors, that's true, but I would have to say a child's parents play a greater role. Children learn all sorts of behaviors from their peers when they are away from their caretakers, whether at a daycare, school or just out with friends, but if those behaviors were to carry over to the child's home life, they would either be encouraged or discouraged by his or her parents.

Furthermore, studies have shown that parents are the biggest role models in children's lives; they take their cues from the people they look up to most: their parents. Parents are the first people to teach a child right from wrong.

There is also evidence that many behaviors and personality traits are genetically inherited, which goes a long way for the argument that a child's parents, not his or her peers, play the biggest role in the development of personality. As stated in the Lilienfeld text, studies have found that "twins who share many of the same peers are only slightly more similar in personality than are twins who share only a few of the same peers."

Overall, it seems unlikely that a child would develop his or her personality without some influenc e from peers, but to me it seems clear that parents would be the greater influence.

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Great argument. It would be useful to tell us where you got the Harris information (textbook? a paper-- cite it? online-- link it?).

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This page contains a single entry by mcgra285 published on November 6, 2011 11:35 PM.

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