Study finds personalities changes over a lifetime
Less than a week ago I came across an interesting study about personalities. Scientists at the University of Edinburg have found that personality is less innate than previously thought, changing during a lifetime according to the study published in Psychology and Aging. Experts define personality as the individual differences in characteristic patterns of feeling, thinking and behaving and focuses on understanding individual differences in particular personality characteristics like irritability and sociability. In this study, scientists only focused on links between personality results, and not at circumstances that could influence changes in personality traits throughout life. Inevitably, further research is needed to explore why personalities do not remain constant in old age.It is a long running personality study out of Scotland which is 63 year long and began in 1950.It involved 1,208 14-year-old students, each were rated by their teachers on a five-point scale assessing six personality characteristics: self-confidence, perseverance, stability of moods, conscientiousness, originality and desire to excel. In 2012, researchers tracked down as many of the original participants as they could. In the end, only 131 agreed to take part in both a detailed questionnaire and telephone interview, during which they completed a number of cognitive tests based on materials sent through post in advance. The scientists compared the results at 77 years to those at 14 years, there was no notable correlation. No statistical significance was found between the ratings of the participants when they were aged 14 and the ratings they gave themselves at age 77, or the ratings their friend or relative game them. Dependability correlated with current wellbeing, but the participants’ dependability at age 14 was not linked with their wellbeing in late life.”We hypothesised that we would find evidence of personality stability over an even longer period of 63 years, but our correlations did not support this hypothesis,” scientists wrote.
However that was not the case.”The longer the interval between two assessments of personality, the weaker the relationship between the two tends to be,” Matthew Harris and his colleagues at the University of Edinburgh noted. “Our results suggest that when the interval is increased to as much as 63 years, there is hardly any relationship at all,” they added.Personality theory and testing has changed considerably over the years, and the researchers conceded that the teachers’ original assessments could have attracted an inherent bias.However, despite the limitations, the researchers hope the study will open the door for further investigation into understanding how and why our personalities change over the course of our lives.Past studies have been able to demonstrate a moderate amount of stability in a person’s personality from childhood to middle age and from middle age to older age, so researchers were expecting that stability to continue over an even longer period.Many of us tend to look at personality traits as either black or white, good or bad, naughty or nice. However, origin of these traits differs. A recent study that I had read a couple of weeks back published in the Journal of Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience which utilised brain scans on 500 participants without any medical or psychiatric complications who were aged 22 to 36 years, and had their cortex observed, it was revealed that the shape of an individual’s brain can say a lot about their personality. The scientists said linking how brain structure is related to basic personality traits is a crucial step to improving our understanding of the link between the brain morphology and particular mood, cognitive or behavioural disorders.Researchers discovered a pattern between varied brain structure and the five key personality traits referred to as the big five by psychologists which include extraversion, neuroticism, open mindedness, agreeableness and conscientiousness.The differences in brain structure were analysed on the basis of thickness, area and the amount of folds present in the cortex.