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Stability and Change of Personality across the Life Course: The Impact of Age and Major Life Events on Mean-Level and Rank-Order Stability of the Big Five

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  • Jule Specht
  • Boris Egloff
  • Stefan C. Schmukle
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    Abstract

    Does personality change across the entire life course, and are those changes due to intrinsic maturation or major life experiences? This longitudinal study investigated changes in the mean levels and rank order of the Big Five personality traits in a heterogeneous sample of 14,718 Germans across all of adulthood. Latent change and latent moderated regression models provided four main findings: First, age had a complex curvilinear influence on mean levels of personality. Second, the rank-order stability of Emotional Stability, Extraversion, Openness, and Agreeableness all followed an inverted U-shaped function, reaching a peak between the ages of 40 and 60, and decreasing afterwards, whereas Conscientiousness showed a continuously increasing rank-order stability across adulthood. Third, personality predicted the occurrence of several objective major life events (selection effects) and changed in reaction to experiencing these events (socialization effects), suggesting that personality can change due to factors other than intrinsic maturation.. - Fourth, when events were clustered according to their valence, as is commonly done,. - effects of the environment on changes in personality were either overlooked or. - overgeneralized. In sum, our analyses show that personality changes throughout the life. - span, but with more pronounced changes in young and old ages, and that this change is. - partly attributable to social demands and experiences.

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    File URL: http://www.diw.de/documents/publikationen/73/diw_01.c.372623.de/diw_sp0377.pdf
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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) in its series SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research with number 377.

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    Length: 68 p.
    Date of creation: 2011
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    Handle: RePEc:diw:diwsop:diw_sp377

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    Keywords: personality development; Big Five; life events; stability; adulthood;

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    References

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    1. Lang, Frieder R. & John, Dennis & Lüdtke, Oliver & Schupp, Jürgen & Wagner, Gert G., 2011. "Short Assessment of the Big Five: Robust Across Survey Methods Except Telephone Interviewing," EconStor Open Access Articles, ZBW - German National Library of Economics, pages 548-567.
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    Cited by:
    1. Judith Offerhaus, 2013. "The Type to Train?: Impacts of Personality Characteristics on Further Training Participation," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 531, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    2. Powdthavee, Nattavudh & Boyce, Christopher J. & Wood, Alex M., 2011. "Can Money Change Who We Are? Estimating the Effects of Unearned Income on Measures of Incentive-Enhancing Personality Traits," IZA Discussion Papers 6131, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. Hille, Adrian & Schupp, Jürgen, 2013. "How Learning a Musical Instrument Affects the Development of Skills," IZA Discussion Papers 7655, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    4. Till Kaiser, 2012. "Haben gebildetere Mütter gewissenhaftere Kinder?: Soziale Herkunft und Persönlichkeitsentwicklung im frühkindlichen Alter," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 509, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    5. Blázquez Cuesta, Maite & Budría, Santiago, 2012. "Unemployment Persistence: How Important Are Non-Cognitive Skills?," IZA Discussion Papers 6654, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    6. Sakari Lemola & David Richter, 2012. "The Course of Subjective Sleep Quality in Middle and Old Adulthood and Its Relation to Physical Health," Journals of Gerontology: Series B, Gerontological Society of America, Gerontological Society of America, vol. 68(5), pages 721-729.
    7. Jule Specht & Boris Egloff & Stefan C. Schmukle, 2012. "Everything under Control?: The Effects of Age, Gender, and Education on Trajectories of Perceived Control in a Nationally Representative German Sample," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 445, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    8. Beatrice Rammstedt & Frank M. Spinath & David Richter & Jürgen Schupp, 2013. "Personality Changes in Couples: Partnership Longevity and Personality Congruence in Couples," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 585, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    9. Lundberg, Shelly, 2013. "Educational Inequality and the Returns to Skills," IZA Discussion Papers 7595, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    10. Erich Weichselgartner, 2011. "Forschungsdaten in der Psychologie: Disziplinspezifische und disziplinübergreifende Bedürfnisse. Zusammenfassung des Forums (2) der 5. Konferenz für Sozial- und Wirtschaftsdaten," Working Paper Series of the German Council for Social and Economic Data, German Council for Social and Economic Data (RatSWD) 187, German Council for Social and Economic Data (RatSWD).
    11. Ute Kunzmann & David Richter & Stefan C. Schmukle, 2013. "Stability and Change in Affective Experience across the Adult Life-Span: Analyses with a National Sample from Germany," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 584, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    12. Sarah Dahmann & Silke Anger, 2014. "The Impact of Education on Personality: Evidence from a German High School Reform," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 658, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    13. Jule Specht & Boris Egloff & Stefan C. Schmukle, 2012. "Examining Mechanisms of Personality Maturation: The Impact of Life Satisfaction on the Development of Big Five Personality Traits," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 455, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    14. Schurer, S.; & Yong, J.;, 2012. "Personality, well-being and the marginal utility of income: What can we learn from random coefficient models?," Health, Econometrics and Data Group (HEDG) Working Papers, HEDG, c/o Department of Economics, University of York 12/01, HEDG, c/o Department of Economics, University of York.
    15. Marco Angrisani & Michael D. Hurd & Erik Meijer & Andrew M. Parker & Susann Rohwedder, 2013. "Labor Force Transitions at Older Ages: The Roles of Work Environment and Personality," Working Papers, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center wp295, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
    16. Rammstedt, Beatrice & Spinath, Frank M. & Richter, David & Schupp, Jürgen, 2013. "Partnership Longevity and Personality Congruence in Couples," EconStor Open Access Articles, ZBW - German National Library of Economics, pages 832-835.
    17. Maite Blázquez Cuesta & Santiago Budría, 2013. "Does income deprivation affect people’s mental well-being?," Banco de Espa�a Working Papers, Banco de Espa�a 1312, Banco de Espa�a.

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