One of the pillars of childhood education is the unquestioning respect for your elders, but according to a new study that might not be the best advice if you want your kids to get a high-paying job.
The study looked at 745 sixth-graders from Luxembourg betweem 1968 and 2008. Researchers examined potential traits that could predict future career choices, and were surprised to discover that breaking the rules was a characteristic that led people to be higher earners later in life.
The finding, published in the journal Developmental Psychology, is based on data from the Luxembourgish MAGRIP Study, which assessed about 3,000 sixth-graders in Luxembourg in 1968. MAGRIP looked into the children's family background, socioeconomic status, IQ, and daily habits, as well as academic achievements. Their teachers were also involved, rating their level of studiousness and willingness to learn.
The new research was performed by a different team of researchers who followed up 745 people from the study, comparing their educational and occupational success across 40 years of their lives and accounting for factors like IQ and the parents' socioeconomic status. Unsurprisingly, those students rated as responsible and studious were found to be high achievers. But the researchers weren’t expecting "rule breaking" to be a predictor of higher income later in life, the reasons for which aren't clear.
"We might assume that students who scored high on this scale might earn a higher income because they are more willing to be more demanding during critical junctures such as when negotiating salaries or raises," the authors suggest in the paper.
"For instance, individuals who scored low on Agreeableness were also shown to earn more money."
Another possibility is that what might have been considered rebellious 40 years ago might not be now. Rebellious people might also be more direct and willing to stand up for themselves, or perhaps they are more willing to rise to the top via unscrupulous methods.
"We also cannot rule out that individuals who are likely or willing to break rules get higher pay for unethical reasons," the study authors wrote.
"For instance, research in the field of organizational psychology showed that employees invest in unethical or deviant workplace behavior when they are not satisfied with their income and when they have a high level of love of money."