Are only children more selfish than others?

They are seen as selfish, narcissistic, antisocial. But according to psychologists, only children are unfairly criticized.

Pspoiled bears hatched by their parents, individualists… Only children are credited with being selfish and antisocial. A time-honored stereotype that has historically relied on psychology and… is wrong. This is shown by a study conducted by Chinese researchers in August 2021 and discovered by the German weekly newspaper The time.

The social psychologists gave 100 students the choice of sharing the same amount of money with someone close to them or keeping a slightly smaller amount all to themselves. Their conclusion is clear: only children are neither more nor less altruistic than those who grew up surrounded by their siblings. In other words, “These aren’t little emperors,” as the study titled, using a Chinese expression.

⋙ The more children a couple has, the less happy they are

The latest studies agree

Admittedly, these results come from a specific socio-cultural context, which was shaped by the one-child policy in China from 1979 to 2015, and are therefore difficult to export to the West. Not to mention that the policy in question could give Chinese researchers an interest in restoring the image of only children in the country with the world’s largest number of children (145 million in 2010!).

But their result confirms that of a study carried out closer to our latitudes and on a larger scale in 2019. By analyzing the responses of almost 2,000 Germans to a questionnaire, psychologists from Leipzig have clarified a controversial question in their field: No, only children are not more narcissistic than others. So don’t beat yourself up if you’ve never had to share your toys and don’t have a second child just to make the first one more lovable: the cliché is indeed (and only) a cliché.

also read ⋙ Children conceived by PMA make adults happier than others, according to a study

⋙ Grandmothers have more affection for their grandchildren than for their children. here’s why

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