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J Pers Soc Psychol. 2011 Feb;100(2):330-48. doi: 10.1037/a0021717.

Age differences in personality traits from 10 to 65: Big Five domains and facets in a large cross-sectional sample.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Colby College, 5550 Mayflower Hill, Waterville, ME 04901, USA. cjsoto@colby.edu

Abstract

Hypotheses about mean-level age differences in the Big Five personality domains, as well as 10 more specific facet traits within those domains, were tested in a very large cross-sectional sample (N = 1,267,218) of children, adolescents, and adults (ages 10-65) assessed over the World Wide Web. The results supported several conclusions. First, late childhood and adolescence were key periods. Across these years, age trends for some traits (a) were especially pronounced, (b) were in a direction different from the corresponding adult trends, or (c) first indicated the presence of gender differences. Second, there were some negative trends in psychosocial maturity from late childhood into adolescence, whereas adult trends were overwhelmingly in the direction of greater maturity and adjustment. Third, the related but distinguishable facet traits within each broad Big Five domain often showed distinct age trends, highlighting the importance of facet-level research for understanding life span age differences in personality.

(PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2010 APA, all rights reserved).

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