Many people say that their friends know them better than they know themselves. It appears that is true even among friends from the sandbox. A 30-year study from Concordia University in Canada found that childhood playmates, not the individual, are better at predicting future success and personality.

Lisa Serkin and Alexa Martin-Storey, a Concordia graduate now at the University of Texas for her post-doctoral studies, recently published a study online, the result of nearly 30 years of data that researchers started to compile in 1976. The first crop of questionnaires asked students in the first, fourth and seventh grades to evaluate themselves for qualities like aggression, likability, social withdrawal or shyness. They also asked the students to evaluate and rank their classmates for the same types of behavior.

Over the next 20 years, the researchers closely tracked the students. A follow-up was conducted between 1999 and 2003 on 700 of the original kids. The survey asked them to measure themselves against the following traits: neuroticism, extroversion, openness, agreeableness and conscientiousness.

"We were able to compare peer and self-perceptions of the childhood [behaviors] to these adult personality factors," Alexa Martin-Storey said in a statement. "We found the evaluations from the group of peers were much more closely associated with eventual adult outcomes than were their own personality perceptions from childhood. This makes sense, since children are around their peers all day and [behaviors] like aggressiveness and likeability are extremely relevant in the school environment."

Kids whose peers described them as socially withdrawn tended to be less extraverted as adults. In contrast, kids who described themselves as socially withdrawn more often were not conscientiousness rather than being particularly shy.

Children that were well-liked by their peers also exhibited high rates of agreeableness, conscientiousness and lower levels of neuroticism.

"Adult personality traits are associated with a lot of important life factors, such as health, mental health and occupational satisfaction," Lisa Serbin says. "The information from our study could be used to promote better longitudinal outcomes for children by helping kids and parents develop effective mechanisms for addressing aggressive or socially withdrawn [behaviors] and promoting more pro-social [behavior]."