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Intergenerational transmission of generativity and stagnation within families in a society after a macrosocial change: A two-generation study


Intergenerational transmission of generativity is a process through which one generation passes elements of its generative potential, such as values and patterns of behavior, on to another. So far, most research on intergenerational transmission of generativity came from relatively stable societies, where the transmission process might be facilitated by the fact that adjacent generations face relatively similar socioeconomic challenges and can therefore make use of similar solutions. In contrast, our study focused on the relationships between parental and offspring characteristics in the context of a society that had undergone a major macro-social change in the past few decades, involving the downfall of the communist regime and subsequent transformation of major political, cultural, and social structures and norms. Apart from examining whether relationships between parental and offspring generative concern and action would show patterns similar to those observed in previous studies, we looked at intergenerational similarities in stagnation, which was recently redefined as a construct partly separable from generativity (Van Hiel et al. Journal of Personality, 74(2), 543–574, 2006). One hundred and twenty-three predominantly female university students and their parents completed measures of generative concern, generative action, stagnation, and Big Five personality traits. Multiple-group path analysis revealed that the structure of the relationships between generativity, stagnation and personality traits did not differ significantly between the groups of parents and offspring. Further analyses showed that parental generative concern was not related to offspring generative concern, but maternal generative action was significantly related to offspring generative action, and maternal stagnation was significantly related to offspring stagnation. The parental level of education was unrelated to offspring generativity or stagnation. These results indicate a certain degree of intergenerational continuity of generativity and stagnation, especially their behavioral components, even though the two generations in our study were raised in different socio-cultural contexts.

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Data Availability

The datasets generated during and/or analysed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.

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  1. The original scale had 32 items; however, the original authors recommend discarding 2 items since their inclusion did not improve the scale’s internal consistency.

  2. The fit remained acceptable after agreeableness was completely removed from the model, thus reducing the number of model degrees of freedom (χ2(3) = 7.64, p = .05; RMSEA = .07 [.00, .13]; CFI = .98; TLI = .91), although the value of RMSEA was inflated by the small df and the value of TLI reduced due to the generally weak paths between variables. For the purpose of the subsequent multiple-group analysis the fixed path between agreeableness and generative concern and stagnation was retained in the model.


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The study was supported by the Czech Republic’s support for long-term strategic development for research organizations (RVO: 68081740).

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All authors contributed to the study conception and design. Material preparation, data collection and analysis were performed by Katarína Millová, Tatiana Malatincová and Marek Blatný. The first draft of the manuscript was written by Katarína Millová and Tatiana Malatincová and all authors commented on previous versions of the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Katarína Millová.

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Ethics Approval

This study was approved by the Ethical Committee of the Institute of Psychology, Czech Academy of Sciences. The study was performed in accordance with the ethical standards as laid down in the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki and its later amendments.

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Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Millová, K., Malatincová, T. & Blatný, M. Intergenerational transmission of generativity and stagnation within families in a society after a macrosocial change: A two-generation study. Curr Psychol 42, 3061–3075 (2023).

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  • Generativity
  • Stagnation
  • Families
  • Macrosocial change
  • Education
  • Personality traits