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Personality and voluntary childlessness

Abstract

This study examined the association between personality and childbearing motivation, with a focus on voluntary childlessness. 780 adults completed an online survey assessing the Big Five personality traits, the trait of Independence, desire for parenthood, motivations for choosing childlessness and various other socio-demographic characteristics. Compared to parents or those desiring children, childfree respondents scored significantly higher in Independence and significantly lower in Agreeableness and Extraversion. They were also less religious and more politically liberal. For non-parents, level of desire for parenthood was negatively correlated with Independence and positively correlated with Agreeableness and religiosity. The ideal number of children desired was positively correlated with Agreeableness and religiosity. Childfree respondents who decided early in life not to have children (‘early articulators’) were significantly higher in Independence and Openness to Experience than those who decided later in life. Motivations for childlessness loaded onto five factors, four of which correlated significantly with personality traits. The results suggest that personality plays a considerable role in influencing individuals towards, or away from, parenthood.

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Correspondence to Adrian Furnham.

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Avison, M., Furnham, A. Personality and voluntary childlessness. J Pop Research 32, 45–67 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12546-014-9140-6

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Keywords

  • Personality
  • Childfree
  • Childlessness
  • Voluntary childlessness
  • Big Five