Examining the transmission of values between generations

Smith, Michelle D.
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University of Guelph

There has been concern that familial bonds have weakened due to disruptive changes in today's society. However, researchers suggest that intergenerational relationships may be stronger than in previous years due to individuals living longer and the resulting increase in the number of shared years. By means of a questionnaire, 84 respondents (divided into 3 age groups: 65+, 31-64, 18-30) indicated the 3 most important values their grandparents and parents passed on to them. They were then asked to choose 3 values that are the most important to pass on to their own children. In addition, participants completed a family connections questionnaire asking detailed questions about the frequency of contact and closeness of their relationships with their grandparents, parents and children. Results indicated that there is considerable value overlap perceived among the generations. In particular, the 65+ group was more likely to perceive value similarity compared to the 18-30 age group. It was also found that this value similarity is influenced by the closeness of the relationship. The implications of these results are discussed with reference to the intergenerational stake hypothesis, the theory of intergenerational solidarity, and Erikson's concepts of identity and generativity.

familial bonds, intergenerational relationships, values, family connections, identity, generativity