Mom Still Matters – In Study, Young Adults Tended to Prioritize Parents Over Friends


Source: University of California, Los Angeles

Summary: If you’re a parent who feels your college-age children would choose their friends over you, a new psychology study has a reassuring message: You’re probably underestimating their loyalty to you.


The psychologists demonstrated for the first time that when forced to make a decision that benefits either a parent or a close friend, young adults are more likely to choose the parent. The study involved 174 people between the ages of 18 and 30. Each was asked to play a series of games that forced them to choose between the interests of a parent and a friend they chose. Each subject began with either $5 or 50 points, and was told to play as if the points could be redeemed for prizes, and the choices they made would increase or decrease their winnings. In half the rounds, all of the player’s gains went to the parent and all of the losses went to the friend. In the other rounds, all gains went to the friend and all losses to the parent. If you’re a parent who feels your college-age children would choose their friends over you, a new UCLA psychology study has a reassuring message: You’re probably underestimating their loyalty to you. The study findings were published in the journal Psychological Science.

Study of Mind

Jennifer Silvers and Joao Guassi Moreira Credit: Reed Hutchinson/UCLA

In each round, participants were shown 16 cards on a computer monitor, with the cards “face down.” On the side that was hidden, each card indicated that the subject had either won or lost a certain amount of money or a certain number of points. Participants could choose to turn over as many cards as they wanted until they chose to stop or until a card revealed they had lost cash or points. Most of the cards provided money or points, but a few resulted in losses. This meant the longer each participant chose to play each round, the more they helped one person they love and put the other person at risk. Each participant played 48 rounds. Before playing, each participant completed a 28-item questionnaire that gauged their feelings toward the parent and friend they chose. Overall, the surveys suggested the participants had strong, positive feelings toward both, but on average, the participants felt their relationships with friends were stronger.

The researchers are interested in studying why young adults prioritized their parents over their closest friends and whether the phenomenon would be the same among young teenagers as well.


More Information:  João F. Guassi Moreira et al, “Parents Versus Peers: Assessing the Impact of Social Agents on Decision Making in Young Adults”, Psychological Science (2018). journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/1 … 177/0956797618778497


 

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