The Psychology of Values

By Clive Seligman; James M. Olson et al. | Go to book overview

10
Value Transmission in Families
Meg J. Rohan
Mark P. Zanna
University of Waterloo

Folk wisdom preaches the inevitability of children growing up to resemble their parents. When we consider socially undesirable behaviors, such as prejudice ("prejudice begets prejudice") the disadvantages of the possible replication process are clear. Thus, insofar as we are interested in either encouraging or disrupting this process, there is a need to examine the reality of the folk wisdom.

In this chapter, we look at some of the evidence that supports the folk wisdom "The apple never falls far from the tree." We discuss the usefulness of the examination and comparison of value systems as a comprehensive way to conceptualize similarities and differences between parents and their children, and we discuss the techniques used to measure values. We report the results of a study conducted to answer two fundamental questions: "How much like their parents do adult children become?" and "What influences this similarity?" Finally, we discuss the implications of our findings and suggest some directions for future research.


PARENT-CHILD SIMILARITY

Early research into parent-child similarity seemed to presume a strong relation between the values, attitudes, and behaviors of parents and those of their children, and focused instead on the relative influence of mothers and fathers in the socialization of particular attitudes and values. For example, Newcomb and Svehla ( 1937) reported that although daughters were more influenced by their mothers in their attitudes towards religion, they were more influenced by their fathers in their attitudes towards communism. During the 1960s, however, the

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