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Merely desiring to alter your personality is not enough, and may backfire unless you take concrete action to change

01 November 2018

Debate about how much a person’s character can and can’t change have occupied psychologists for decades, but a growing consensus is beginning to emerge. While our traits are relatively stable, they are not fixed.

Change is often passive – that is, experience leaves its mark on personality. But excitingly, initial findings suggest that we can also change ourselves.

What prior research has so far not addressed, however, is whether simply desiring to change is enough (perhaps by triggering automatic, subtle shifts in our identity and behaviour), or whether we must take deliberate, active steps to change. 

A new study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology explores this question. The results show once again that wilful personality change is possible, but they also indicate that the mere desire to change is not sufficient. 

Read more in a new post by Christian Jarrett on our Research Digest blog.

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