Mothers want extrovert kids more than they want smart ones | Ladders

It turns out that for mothers, one personality trait trumps the rest: Being outgoing.
Science of Work

This is the personality type mothers most want for their kids

It turns out that for mothers, one personality trait trumps the rest: Being outgoing.

A new study in the the journal Personality and Individual Differences finds that 51% of mothers chose “extraversion” as the most desired of the Big Five personality traits defined by modern psychology — those traits being Extraversion, Conscientiousness, Neuroticism, Agreeableness, and Openness to Experience.

Extraversion was even more important to mothers than intelligence, the study found.

Extraverts take the cake

After picking which aspects of each of the Big Five personality traits they most desired for their child (each trait had six aspects), the study participants — 142 mothers with kids aged 0-12 months — ranked each trait from “most” to “least” crucial for their child to have.

The researchers found that 51% of moms chose extraversion as the most significant and 20% chose agreeableness, while the percentage who picked conscientiousness and intelligence each stood below 10%.

The children’s genders reportedly didn’t have an effect on the results, and the researchers believe that this research is “the first to explore mothers’ appreciation of the relative importance of IQ and the Big Five personality traits for their children.”

Strengths of extroverts at work

While it’s not clear exactly why the mothers preferred extraversion to other traits, research certainly shows that being outgoing and adventurous can have a big positive impact in life and at work.

Francesca Gino writes about how extroverts and introverts work differently on teams in a Harvard Business Review article. Citing her research, she writes, “team leaders who are extroverted can be highly effective leaders when the members of their team are dutiful followers looking for guidance from above. Extroverts bring the vision, assertiveness, energy, and networks necessary to give them direction.”

Research shows that extroverts may out-earn introverts because they’re more likely to be promoted to managerial roles.

The wonders of introverts at work

There are times when introverts have the upper hand, however. Gino’s article goes on to explain where introverts have the upper hand. “[W]hen team members are proactive — and take the initiative to introduce changes, champion new visions, and promote better strategies — it is introverted leaders who have the advantage,” Gino writes.

There are definitely benefits to being on the more reserved side in the office. As we’ve written before, a few plusses of being this type of person in a professional setting are: being a good listener and remaining calm, tending to think practically, and making an effort to get to know who they work with.

Whether you’re an extrovert, an introvert, or an ambivert (with traits of both), your personality is sure to play a role in how you work with and relate to others in the office.

So don’t worry, moms, your kid will be fine… even if he or she is a little shy.