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J Pers Soc Psychol. 2010 Jun;98(6):995-1008. doi: 10.1037/a0019558.

Sources of cumulative continuity in personality: a longitudinal multiple-rater twin study.

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Department of Psychology, Bielefeld University, Universitätsstrasse 25, Bielefeld, Germany.


This study analyzed the etiology of rank-order stability and change in personality over a time period of 13 years in order to explain cumulative continuity with age. NEO five-factor inventory self- and peer report data from 696 monozygotic and 387 dizygotic twin pairs reared together were analyzed using a combination of multiple-rater twin, latent state-trait, and autoregressive simplex models. Correcting for measurement error, this model disentangled genetic and environmental effects on long- and short-term convergent valid stability, on occasional influences, and on self- and peer report-specific stability. Genetic factors represented the main sources that contributed to phenotypic long-term stability of personality in young and middle adulthood, whereas change was predominantly attributable to environmental factors. Phenotypic continuity increased as a function of cumulative environmental effects, which became manifest in stable trait variance and decreasing occasion-specific effects with age. This study's findings suggest a complex interplay between genetic and environmental factors resulting in the typical patterns of continuity in personality across young and middle adulthood.

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