NOT ALL our future is written in the genes, even among the benches of the kindergarten, if you look closely, you can find something of what we will be. Indeed of what we will gain. A study published in Jama Psychiatry, one of the American Medical Association’s journals, found that children in nursery school who are inattentive, oppositional and aggressive, at 33-35 earn less than their more empathetic, more helpful and ready to help classmates who is in trouble.
To reach this result (which has the air of a pious illusion but which obviously is not) an international team of US, French and Candesi researchers has used the data of the Quebec Longitudinal Study of Kindergarten Children on 2850 children born in 1980 -1981 in Canada, and followed them from 1985 to 2015. The information included the annual tax return of the participants at the age of 33-35 and the assessments of their nursery school teachers when they were 5 or 6 years old. The target? Testing, crossing data, possible associations between salaries (therefore somehow between success, like it or not) and early behavior.
In particular, those examined by the researchers were five:
inattention (aptitude to deconcentrate to easily distract oneself, for example),
hyperactivity (restlessness, the tendency to move continuously …),
physical aggression (the habit of fighting or having bully attitudes, …), or (disobedience, irritability, the tendency to blame others …),
anxiety (excess of worry, easy crying) and
prosociality (the propensity to help those who hurt themselves for example, showing sympathy, compassion) , the sharing).
After having taken into account the intelligence quotient of the small participants in the research and of the problematic family situations (borderline cases were excluded from the survey), the authors concluded that the girls and boys who at mothering tended to get distracted by being inattentive, three decades later they earned less than others. And that males with an aggressive-oppositional trait at 5-6 years, at 33-35 could count on lower incomes than those of their prosocial peers, of good children, as we once said.
It is clear, and the same authors have emphasized it, that we are talking about a study that by its nature photographs, so to speak, associations between phenomena, in this case behavior in the developmental age and future economic income, and does not investigate the relationships of cause- effect. However it is a research carried out on a vast sample and followed for 30 years. “Early behaviors can be changed, probably more than other factors traditionally associated with earnings, such as intelligence quotient and socioeconomic status, which – Sylvana M. Côté, an associate professor of social and preventive medicine at the University of Rome, in fact reasons. Montreal and co-author of the study – makes these behaviors key for early interventions “.” If childhood behavioral problems are associated with lower earnings – he continues – to help children it is essential to address them as soon as possible through screening and intervention programs ” .
One can already understand a lot about the personality of a child. “Our study indicates that nursery school teachers can identify the behaviors of children who are associated with low earnings three decades later,” adds Daniel Nagin, professor of public policy at Heinz College of Carnegie Mellon University, also signing the study. Therefore – it is the conclusion – “monitoring and support for boys and girls who show high levels of distraction, and for males with high levels of aggressiveness and opposition and low prosociality, could give long-term socio-economic benefits, for individuals and for the society”.
SOURCE: TINA SIMONIELLO (Salute della Repubblica)