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J Pers Soc Psychol. 2008 Apr;94(4):718-37. doi: 10.1037/0022-3514.94.4.718.

The developmental psychometrics of big five self-reports: acquiescence, factor structure, coherence, and differentiation from ages 10 to 20.

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Department of Psychology, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720-5050, USA.


How do youths' personality reports differ from those of adults? To identify the year-by-year timing of developmental trends from late childhood (age 10) to early adulthood (age 20), the authors examined Big Five self-report data from a large and diverse Internet sample. At younger ages within this range, there were large individual differences in acquiescent responding, and acquiescence variability had pronounced effects on psychometric characteristics. Beyond the effects of acquiescence, self-reports generally became more coherent within domains, and better differentiated across domains, at older ages. Importantly, however, different Big Five domains showed different developmental trends. Extraversion showed especially pronounced age gains in coherence but no gains in differentiation. In contrast, Agreeableness and Conscientiousness showed large age gains in differentiation but only trivial gains in coherence. Neuroticism and Openness showed moderate gains in both coherence and differentiation. Comparisons of items that were relatively easy versus difficult to comprehend indicated that these patterns were not simply due to verbal comprehension. These findings have important implications for the study of personality characteristics and other psychological attributes in childhood and adolescence.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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