Monday, June 13, 2011

Stability and change of personality across the life course

Specht, J., Egloff, B., & Schmukle, S. C. (in press). Stability and change of personality across the life course: The impact of age and major life events on mean-level and rank-order stability of the Big Five. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology
Does personality change across the entire life course, and are those changes due to intrinsic maturation or major life experiences? This longitudinal study investigated changes in the mean levels and rank order of the Big Five personality traits in a heterogeneous sample of 14,718 Germans across all of adulthood who were tracked across 4 years (2005 - 2009). Latent change and latent moderated regression models provided four main findings: First, age had a complex curvilinear influence on mean levels of personality. Second, the rank-order stability of Emotional Stability, Extraversion, Openness, and Agreeableness all followed an inverted U-shaped function, reaching a peak between the ages of 40 and 60, and decreasing afterwards, whereas Conscientiousness showed a continuously increasing rank-order stability across adulthood. Third, personality predicted the occurrence of several objective major life events (selection effects) and changed in reaction to experiencing these events (socialization effects), suggesting that personality can change due to factors other than intrinsic maturation. Fourth, when events were clustered according to their valence, as is commonly done, effects of the environment on changes in personality were either overlooked or overgeneralized. In sum, our analyses show that personality changes throughout the life span, but with more pronounced changes in young and old ages, and that this change is partly attributable to social demands and experiences.

It is consistent with
Personality traits are highly stable in persons over 25 years old to 45 years old (the group of persons who could be most interested in serious online dating) They have only minor changes in personality (less than 1 interval in a normative test) and the 16PF5 test will not "see" them because the output of the 16PF5 test are 16 variables STens (Standard Tens) taking integer values from 1 to 10. STens divide the score scale into ten units. STens have the advantage that they enable results to be thought of in terms of bands of scores, rather than absolute raw scores. These bands are narrow enough to distinguish statistically significant differences between candidates, but wide enough not to over emphasize minor differences between candidates.

"Genetic and environmental influences on personality trait stability and growth during the transition to adulthood: A three wave longitudinal study. "
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. (2010)
Hopwood, C.J., Donnellan, M.B., Blonigen, D.M., Krueger, R.F., McGue, M., Iacono, W.G., & Burt, S.A
"Personality trait change in adulthood." Current Directions in Psychological Science, 17, 31-35. Roberts, B. W. & Mroczek, D. (2008).

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