Toronto, Sep 21 Even on the playground, our childhood peers know us better than we do ourselves and may be able to best predict our success as an adult.
Lisa Serbin, psychologist from Concordia University and Alexa Martin-Storey, recent Concordia graduate and a current post-doctoral student at the University of Texas who led the study, revealed that childhood peer evaluation of classmate personalities can more accurately predict adulthood success than self-evaluation at that age.
“This study, known as the Concordia Longitudinal Risk Project, was started in 1976 by my colleagues in the Department of Psychology, Alex Schwartzman and Jane Ledingham, who is now at the University of Ottawa,” said Serbin.
“Over two years, Montreal students in grades one, four and seven completed peer evaluations of their classmates and rated them in terms of aggression, likeability and social withdrawal. The students also did self-evaluations,” added Serbin, according to a Concordia statement.
Over the next 20 years, these children were closely followed as researchers used the exhaustive longitudinal study to track their progress into adulthood.
A follow-up survey was conducted between 1999 and 2003 with nearly 700 of the participants from the initial study.
“We found the evaluations from the group of peers were much more closely associated with eventual adult outcomes than were their own personality perceptions from childhood.
“This makes sense, since children are around their peers all day and behaviours like aggressiveness and likeability are extremely relevant in the school environment,” added Martin-Storey.
For example, children who perceived themselves as socially withdrawn exhibited less conscientiousness as adults.
On the other hand, kids whose peers perceived them as socially withdrawn grew up to exhibit lower levels of extroversion. The latter being a more accurate association.