A new study has found that children, born under the one child per couple law in China, are less trusting, less competitive, more pessimistic, less conscientious and more risk-averse than people born before the law was created. These only children are called “little emperors.”
“Little Emperor Syndrome” is an idea that a generation of only children, who are the sole focus of their parents, are growing up coddled and unsocialized in China. Researchers say the personality changes could have world impact by creating a generation that avoids risk and may hinder innovation.
In 1979, China created the one-child law when they faced rapid population growth. Exceptions to this law include rural or ethnic minority family, twin births, or for families the a seriously disabled first child. Urban families are limited to one child and if they have another child they are highly fined.
The study looked at 421 Beijing men and women who were born within an eight-year period just before and just after the law was implemented in 1979. The participants were given personality surveys and were tested to measure their altruism, trust, trustworthiness, risk attitudes, and competitiveness.
The researchers fond that the participants born under the one-child policy were less trusting and less trustworthy. They were also more pessimistic, less competitive, and more risk-averse than the people born before the law according to Live Science.
According to Fox News, one of the authors, Lisa Cameron, said:
Trust is really important, not just social interactions but in terms of negotiations in business, working with colleagues in business, negotiating between firms. If we have lower levels of trust, that could make these kinds of negotiations and interactions more difficult.”
Cannon added that findings matched they stereotypical “Little Emperors” portrayed in the media. Lack of trust and trustworthiness may reflect poorer social skills of those who didn’t grow up sharing and negotiating with siblings. According to Live Science, Cannon said, “Largely it mapped into what we expected, although we were surprised by the magnitude and the strength.”