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The Stability of Big-Five Personality Traits

  • Cobb-Clark, Deborah A.


    (University of Melbourne)

  • Schurer, Stefanie


    (University of Sydney)

We use a large, nationally-representative sample of working-age adults to demonstrate that personality (as measured by the Big Five) is stable over a four-year period. Average personality changes are small and do not vary substantially across age groups. Intra-individual personality change is generally unrelated to experiencing adverse life events and is unlikely to be economically meaningful. Like other non-cognitive traits, personality can be modeled as a stable input into many economic decisions.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 5943.

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Length: 13 pages
Date of creation: Aug 2011
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Economics Letters, 2012, 115 (1), 11-15
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp5943
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  1. James J. Heckman, 2011. "Integrating Personality Psychology into Economics," NBER Working Papers 17378, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Deborah Cobb-Clark & Stefanie Schurer, 2011. "Two Economists' Musings on the Stability of Locus of Control," Melbourne Institute Working Paper Series wp2011n09, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne.
  3. Heineck, Guido & Anger, Silke, 2010. "The returns to cognitive abilities and personality traits in Germany," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(3), pages 535-546, June.
  4. Nyhus, Ellen K. & Pons, Empar, 2005. "The effects of personality on earnings," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 26(3), pages 363-384, June.
  5. Gerrit Mueller & Erik Plug, 2006. "Estimating the effect of personality on male and female earnings," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 60(1), pages 3-22, October.
  6. Mathilde Almlund & Angela Lee Duckworth & James J. Heckman & Tim D. Kautz, 2011. "Personality Psychology and Economics," NBER Working Papers 16822, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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