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New insights into lifetime personality change from “meta-study” featuring 50,000 participants

09 January 2018

It’s a question that goes to the heart of human nature – do our personalities change through life or stay essentially the same?

You might think psychology would have a definitive answer, but this remains an active research question. This is partly because of the practical challenge of testing the same group of individuals over many years. Now a major new contribution to the topic has been made available online at the PsyArXiv repository.

The researchers, led by Eileen Graham at Northwestern University, have compared and combined data from 14 previously published longitudinal studies, together involving nearly 50,000 participants from the US, Europe and Scandinavia. Their findings confirm and extend existing knowledge, showing how personality traits tend to change through life in predictable ways.

Graham and her colleagues started by looking for existing long-term studies into health and ageing that had captured data on at least one of the Big Five personality traits (Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, Neuroticism) on at least three separate occasions among the same sample of people.

Although these long-term term studies measured personality, previous investigators hadn’t necessarily looked at this aspect of their data.

Read more on our Research Digest blog.


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