Values in Middle Childhood: Social and Genetic Contributions

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Abstract

Theories of value development often identify adolescence as the period for value formation, and cultural and familial factors as the sources for value priorities. However, recent research suggests that value priorities can be observed as early as in middle childhood, and several studies, including one on preadolescents, have suggested a genetic contribution to individual differences in values. In the current study, 174 pairs of monozygotic and dizygotic seven-year-old Israeli twins completed the Picture-based Value Survey for Children (PBVS–C). We replicated basic patterns of relations between value priorities and variables of socialization—gender, religiosity, and socioeconomic status—that have been found in studies with adults. Most important, values of Self-transcendence, Self-enhancement, and Conservation, were found to be significantly affected by genetic factors (29 percent, 47 percent, and 31 percent, respectively), as well as non-shared environment (71 percent, 53 percent, and 69 percent, respectively). Openness to change values, in contrast, were found to be unaffected by genetic factors at this age and were influenced by shared (19 percent) and non-shared (81 percent) environment. These findings support the recent view that values are formed at earlier ages than had been assumed previously, and they further our understanding of the genetic and environmental factors involved in value formation at young ages.

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