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, 1 (3), 220-32

As Time Goes By: Change and Stability in Personality Over Fifty Years


As Time Goes By: Change and Stability in Personality Over Fifty Years

N Haan et al. Psychol Aging.


Dimensions of personality, based on Q-sorted descriptions at seven points in time over a 50-year period and derived from a three-way component analysis, are described for a core sample of 118 subjects and two additional childhood samples of 99 and 108 subjects that partially overlap with the core sample. Stability and change in personality are described between adjacent periods and across a substantial segment of the life span from early childhood to late adulthood. These descriptions do not seem consistent with various explanations that personality develops either by stages or by steady gradual accumulation, or that it results from early effects. Instead, some aspects of personality shifted in level and correlational stability at particular intervals in time and according to sex of participants; other aspects were comparatively stable, irrespective of time interval and sex of participants. We suggest that the development of personality and achievement-based variables is not alike. Instead, personality development appears to be considerably more innovative and responsive-that is, more adaptive.

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