Magazine
Latest Issue

The roots of personality

How parents behave towards their children may have much less influence on their personalities than most of us assume. Jerome Burne reviews research which suggests that genetic inheritance together with peer group pressure is what really counts

By Jerome Burne   January 1998

If a young man committed a serious crime in pre-colonial China his parents were liable to be executed with him, on the grounds that they were also to blame. This logic is reappearing in contemporary social policy: parents are responsible for shaping their children’s behaviour; delinquency is rising; parents must be doing something wrong. If a few were made an example of, the rest might mend their ways and bring up their children properly. But do even the best of parents have that much control?

One of the best kept secrets of psychological research over the last ten years is…

Register today to continue reading

You’ve hit your limit of three articles in the last 30 days. To get seven more, simply enter your email address below.

You’ll also receive our free e-book Prospect’s Top Thinkers 2020 and our newsletter with the best new writing on politics, economics, literature and the arts.

Prospect may process your personal information for our legitimate business purposes, to provide you with newsletters, subscription offers and other relevant information.

Click here to learn more about these purposes and how we use your data. You will be able to opt-out of further contact on the next page and in all our communications.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to letters@prospect-magazine.co.uk

More From Prospect