Think you're raising a mini-me? It's actually unlikely your child will inherit your personality and could have a temperament closer to a 'random stranger', according to new study

This is very surprising news

Smiling family of three in their living room
(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you thought it was given that you'd inherit traits from your parents - think again. Scientists have revealed interesting research suggesting this isn't actually the case.

While it turns out you can inherit your grandparents' trauma even if you've never met them, many worry about how to stop passing fears onto their kids - even though these can be sometimes be inadvertently imprinted. There are even ways your phone addiction can be passed to your children, if they witness it from an early age and find their attachments subsequently become insecure from it.

Therefore, you'd think it automatic to be similar to your parents in personality and temperament, if so many other characteristics can be so easily passed down. However, scientists have revealed children actually inherit very little of their parents' personality - they're only slightly more likely to have a similar temperament than a pairs of strangers.

As suggested by The Times, this study compared the characters of parents and adult children, along with siblings, half-siblings, grandparents, grandchildren and second-degree relatives. Traits tested included how extrovert, open, agreeable and conscientious they were, using data collected since 2000 from over a thousand pairs of relatives. Each participant was asked to rate their own personality traits, and have a partner of friend offer a second opinion.

"People assume that upbringing shapes personality, that it shapes what people are psychologically, but there’s really no evidence for this."

Dr René Mottus

Results suggest approximately 42% of the differences between personality traits was explained by the kind of genetic factors that cause children to be like their parents. This is higher than the previously suggested figure, of around 25%. 

Dr René Mottus of Edinburgh University, leading the study, said "More than 60 per cent of children are in a different [category] from their parents for any given personality trait. In other words, children and parents are a little more likely to be similar than random people, but not sufficiently so to allow us to accurately predict children’s traits from their parents."

He added "In almost every major language you seem to have some saying along the lines of ‘like father, like son’, presumably because people have an intuition about it — but it turns out this intuition is not very correct." He concluded "People assume that upbringing shapes personality, that it shapes what people are psychologically, but there’s really no evidence for this.".

Wondering which is the happiest generation? We take a look. Nearly half the grandparent-aged generation have never been asked for advice, and that really should change. In an ageing population, many will find themselves part of the sandwich generation - it's a challenging place to find yourself.

Lucy Wigley
Parenting writer - contributing

Lucy is a mum-of-two, multi-award nominated writer and blogger with six years’ of experience writing about parenting, family life, and TV. Lucy has contributed content to PopSugar and In the last three years, she has transformed her passion for streaming countless hours of television into specialising in entertainment writing. There is now nothing she loves more than watching the best shows on television and sharing why you - and your kids - should watch them.