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New Research on Personality and Emotional Development From Psychological Science

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Read about the latest research on personality and emotional development published in Psychological Science.

Birth-Cohort Effects in the Association Between Personality and Fertility

Markus Jokela

The birth rate in many countries has been declining. To determine whether personality traits and societal expectations could be influencing these changes, the researchers collected Big Five personality traits, level of education, fertility history, and parental socioeconomic status from individuals in the Midlife Development in the United States study and the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study. Results indicated that Openness to Experience was related to lower fertility rates for both men and women in more recent birth cohorts. High Conscientiousness was also a negative predictor of fertility for women in younger birth cohorts. The authors conclude that people with certain personality traits may be more affected by societal pressures that encourage reduced fertility.

Published in the August 2012 issue of Psychological Science

Genetic and Caregiving-Based Contributions to Infant Attachment: Unique Associations With Distress Reactivity and Attachment Security

K. Lee Raby, Dante Cicchetti, Elizabeth A. Carlson, J. J. Cutuli, Michelle M. Englund, and Byron Egeland

Attachment quality in infancy is predictive of socioemotional functioning and psychopathology in later childhood and adolescence, so it is important to understand the factors that contribute to infant attachment. Maternal responsiveness was assessed at 6 months, and infants’ attachment style and level of distress during the “strange situation” task was categorized at 12 and 18 months. The participants returned at age 32 years and were genotyped for the Serotonin 5-HTTLPR gene variant, which has been associated with negative affect and emotional disorders. Maternal responsiveness at 6 months significantly predicted infants’ attachment security at 12 and 18 months. Additionally, participants’ 5-HTTLRP gene variant predicted attachment security and distress classification at 12 months. These results indicate that both maternal responsiveness and 5-HTTLPR genotype influence the security of children’s attachment.

Published online July 24, 2012 in Psychological Science