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J Pers Soc Psychol. 2003 May;84(5):1041-53.

Development of personality in early and middle adulthood: set like plaster or persistent change?

Author information

1
Institute of Personality and Social Research, University of California, Berkeley, USA. sanjay@psych.stanford.edu

Abstract

Different theories make different predictions about how mean levels of personality traits change in adulthood. The biological view of the Five-factor theory proposes the plaster hypothesis: All personality traits stop changing by age 30. In contrast, contextualist perspectives propose that changes should be more varied and should persist throughout adulthood. This study compared these perspectives in a large (N = 132,515) sample of adults aged 21-60 who completed a Big Five personality measure on the Internet. Conscientiousness and Agreeableness increased throughout early and middle adulthood at varying rates; Neuroticism declined among women but did not change among men. The variety in patterns of change suggests that the Big Five traits are complex phenomena subject to a variety of developmental influences.

PMID:
12757147
DOI:
10.1037/0022-3514.84.5.1041
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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