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J Pers Soc Psychol. 2000 Jan;78(1):173-86.

Nature over nurture: temperament, personality, and life span development.

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  • 1Personality, Stress, and Coping Section, Gerontology Research Center, National Institute on Aging, National Institutes of Health, Baltimore, Maryland 21224-6825, USA.


Temperaments are often regarded as biologically based psychological tendencies with intrinsic paths of development. It is argued that this definition applies to the personality traits of the five-factor model. Evidence for the endogenous nature of traits is summarized from studies of behavior genetics, parent-child relations, personality structure, animal personality, and the longitudinal stability of individual differences. New evidence for intrinsic maturation is offered from analyses of NEO Five-Factor Inventory scores for men and women age 14 and over in German, British, Spanish, Czech, and Turkish samples (N = 5,085). These data support strong conceptual links to child temperament despite modest empirical associations. The intrinsic maturation of personality is complemented by the culturally conditioned development of characteristic adaptations that express personality; interventions in human development are best addressed to these.

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