The rank-order consistency of personality traits from childhood to old age: a quantitative review of longitudinal studies

Psychol Bull. 2000 Jan;126(1):3-25. doi: 10.1037/0033-2909.126.1.3.


The present study used meta-analytic techniques to test whether trait consistency maximizes and stabilizes at a specific period in the life course. From 152 longitudinal studies, 3,217 test-retest correlation coefficients were compiled. Meta-analytic estimates of mean population test-retest correlation coefficients showed that trait consistency increased from .31 in childhood to .54 during the college years, to .64 at age 30, and then reached a plateau around .74 between ages 50 and 70 when time interval was held constant at 6.7 years. Analysis of moderators of consistency showed that the longitudinal time interval had a negative relation to trait consistency and that temperament dimensions were less consistent than adult personality traits.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aging / psychology*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Middle Aged
  • Personality
  • Personality Development*
  • Personality Tests*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Temperament*
  • Time Factors