April 24, 2012
Oppositional 3 Year Olds More Likely To Gamble

Troubled children emerge pretty early.

Based on tests of over 900 individuals beginning in toddlerhood, the study found that “people who were rated at age three as being more restless, inattentive, oppositional, and moody than other three-year old children were twice as likely to grow up to have problems with gambling as adults three decades later,” says psychologist Wendy S. Slutske of University of Missouri, who conducted the study with Terrie E. Moffitt and Avshalom Caspi, both of Duke University and University College/London; and Richie Poulton of University of Otago, in Dunedin, New Zealand.

In how many other ways do these personality traits influence outcomes a few decades later? More criminality? More drug abuse? Lower educational attainment? Also, do any of these attributes become assets when paired with sufficiently high intelligence? Do brilliant oppositional people start more companies or achieve more artistically?

I hear George Thorogood singing about when he was born:

The head nurse spoke up
Said "Leave this one alone"
She could tell right away
That I was bad to the bone

Share |      Randall Parker, 2012 April 24 10:07 PM  Brain Personality


Comments
Phillep Harding said at April 25, 2012 10:36 AM:

The people doing the study assume the kid will survive that long. The worst kid like that I ever met had me ready to strangle the brat after no more than 10 minutes. (He was about 4)

lorien1973 said at April 26, 2012 10:31 AM:

Cum hoc ergo propter hoc.

Fat Man said at April 26, 2012 10:41 AM:

Call the Department of Precrime.

former restless, inattentive, oppositional, and moody child said at April 26, 2012 10:54 AM:

How much do you want to bet that this study is some how flawed? I'd bet my house and car on it.

Mokkarem said at April 26, 2012 10:56 AM:

As both a researcher and a father of my own 3 year old, I look forward to reading the whole study, as the most interesting conclusion is probably this:

"And the implications of the study may even go beyond gambling. “It fits into a larger story about how self-control in early childhood is related to important life outcomes in adulthood,” said Slutske. New programs for boosting self-control—even Sesame Street’s segments on the importance of saving money and waiting until later for goodies—might not only head off a painful future of compulsive gambling but also increase children’s chances of academic success, financial security, and personal happiness when they grow up."

former restless, inattentive, oppositional, and moody child said at April 26, 2012 11:06 AM:

Phillep Harding I didn't think much of you either. I was just seeing how fast I could get your knickers in a twist. You were easy.

richard40 said at April 26, 2012 11:07 AM:

So basically bratty kids grow up to become troubled adults. Should this be any kind of a surprise?

Bob said at April 26, 2012 11:11 AM:

Sounds like ADHD. I don't think is new news.

rodomontade said at April 26, 2012 11:45 AM:

What does a "more oppositional" 3-year-old look like?

jgreene said at April 26, 2012 11:51 AM:

This is another study that proves just how dumb psychologists are. Bratty kids are usually programmed to be undisciplined by their parent/s. I'm sure there are many other disfunctional tendencies that these human beings will exhibit later in their lives.

Darrell said at April 26, 2012 1:12 PM:

This is BS. Most psychologists don't know much of anything about children. Most of them probably don't have any. I've personally seen many bratty kids who turned out fine as they grew up. On the flip side, I've see well-behaved kids turn into awful adults. I think that the entire developmental process for children is far more complex than these researchers know. This study should be taken with a large grain of salt.

JC said at April 26, 2012 4:15 PM:

I wonder how many of these "oppositional" toddlers come from either broken homes or homes where the parents have both a lot of drama and poor interpersonal skills? Kids learn what they live, and by three they already have a strong idea of what is acceptable and what gets them attention in their households. The first real bully my toddler has come up against would certainly be defined as "oppositional," but his problems were just as clearly due to a mother who was ignoring her misbehaving kids while shouting at someone on the phone for twenty minutes. And of course, people who grow up that way are more likely to have problems in general.

Phillep Harding said at April 26, 2012 5:34 PM:

The one I ran into was killed by his step father.

David Friedman said at April 27, 2012 6:26 AM:

Nobody has discussed the obvious problem with this sort of result. There are lots of different relations that such a study might discover between characteristic A of small children and characteristic B of the same person as an adult. Suppose, for simplicity, that ten A's and ten B's are examined, giving a total of 100 possible relations. The evidence supports one relationship at the .01 level, meaning that there is only one chance in a hundred that the evidence would be that strong by chance.

That is the result one would expect if none of the relations is real. One would need to know more about how the study was done, in particular how many possible relations were checked and how strong the final result was, to know if we have any reason to believe the result.

Randall Parker said at April 30, 2012 10:07 PM:

David Friedman,

I tend to put a study like this one under less scrutiny mostly because it is consistent with a bigger body of research that shows early emergence of personality types. I'm too tired at the moment to go searching for other research showing early behavior as predictive for behavior much later in life. But you can find such research pretty easily.

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