Assumptions about family resemblances are widely held among people all over the world. Old sayings like “it's in the blood,” “an apple doesn't fall far from the tree,” and “like father, like son” reflect people's beliefs in this regard. Psychologists from various backgrounds such as family psychology, behavior genetics, and attachment theory have proposed mechanisms explaining why characteristics such as life goals might run in the family. Yet, convincing arguments suggest that there are few overlaps in terms of life goals: Family members share different parts of their biographies with each other, belong to different societal cohorts, and have been socialized in different historical contexts.
Little attention has been given to life goals from this similarity perspective. This lack of interest is surprising because shared goals are one feature of defining family (Schneewind, 1999). According to this definition, a family's community feeling is characterized by shared goals, shared experiences of positive and negative emotionality, knowledge, and values. Although some research focused on the relationship between parenting and children's goals (Kasser, Ryan, Zax, & Sameroff, 1995), little is known about the resemblance in goals of two or even three family generations. Three-generation family studies in general are quite rare, representing a sharp contrast to the increasing mutual lifetime of family generations. This increase has led to a growing importance of multigenerational families (Bengtson, 2001), providing many opportunities to be in contact and share ideas.