Memory and Personality Development in Adulthood: Evidence From Four Longitudinal Studies.

TitleMemory and Personality Development in Adulthood: Evidence From Four Longitudinal Studies.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2021
AuthorsStephan, Y, Sutin, AR, Luchetti, M, Terracciano, A
JournalThe Journals of Gerontology, Series B
ISSN Number1758-5368
KeywordsAdulthood, longitudinal, Memory, Personality Development

OBJECTIVES: Personality traits have been related to concurrent memory performance. Most studies, however, have focused on personality as a predictor of memory; comparatively less is known about whether memory is related to personality development across adulthood. Using 4 samples, the present study tests whether memory level and change are related to personality change in adulthood.

METHOD: Participants were drawn from 2 waves of the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study Graduates (WLSG; N = 3,232, mean age = 64.28, SD = 0.65) and Wisconsin Longitudinal Study Siblings (WLSS; N = 1,570, mean age = 63.52, SD = 6.69) samples, the Midlife in the United States (MIDUS; N = 1,901, mean age = 55.43, SD = 10.98), and the Health and Retirement Study (HRS; N = 6,038, mean age = 65.47, SD = 8.28). Immediate and delayed recall and the 5 major personality traits were assessed at baseline and follow-up.

RESULTS: There was heterogeneity in the associations across samples. A meta-analysis of latent change in the four samples indicated that lower baseline memory performance was related to an increase in neuroticism (B = -0.002; 95% CI = -0.004, -0.0008) and a decrease in agreeableness (B = 0.004; 95% CI = 0.002, 0.007) and conscientiousness (B = 0.005; 95% CI = 0.0008, 0.010). In addition, declines in memory were related to steeper declines in extraversion (B = 0.06; 95% CI = 0.003, 0.11), openness (B = 0.04; 95% CI = 0.007, 0.069), and conscientiousness (B = 0.05; 95% CI = 0.019, 0.09).

DISCUSSION: The present study indicates that poor memory and declines in memory over time are related to maladaptive personality change. These associations, however, were small and inconsistent across samples.

Citation Key11380
PubMed ID32896862
PubMed Central IDPMC7756697