We often dismiss assessments children make of one another as off-base or predicated on small rivalries, but research has revealed that peer assessment in kids may be a strong indicator of how they grow to comport themselves in the world.
A new long-term study of kids and social outcomes has discovered that children are remarkably astute at gauging future behaviors of their peers, and that goes all the way back to the swingset. According to researchers at Concordia University, where the study began several years ago, peer assessments of kids tracked into adulthood were likely to reveal character strengths and flaws that even self-assessment did not turn up.
The study started way back in 1976, and followed the then-kids twenty years into their futures, measuring their personalities as they developed against peer reports from a young age to determine how likely kids were to retain certain characteristics.
As it turns out? Pretty likely.
Alexa Martin-Storey is an author on the study and a recent Concordia grad. Martin-Storey explains:
“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 behaviors like aggressiveness and likeability are extremely relevant in the school environment.”
Study co-author Lisa Serbin explains that the data can be used to eventually develop early intervention tactics for children that display maladaptive behaviors:
“The information from our study could be used to promote better longitudinal outcomes for children by helping kids and parents develop effective mechanisms for addressing aggressive or socially withdrawn behaviors and promoting more pro-social behavior.”
Have you found that adults you knew as kids have not changed much over the years?