Do changes in personality predict life outcomes?

TitleDo changes in personality predict life outcomes?
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2023
AuthorsWright, AJ, Jackson, JJ
JournalJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
ISSN Number1939-1315
KeywordsDivorce, Health Status, Humans, Longitudinal Studies, Occupations, Personality, Personality Disorders

The Big Five personality traits predict many important life outcomes. These traits, although relatively stable, are also open to change across time. However, whether these changes likewise predict a wide range of life outcomes has yet to be rigorously tested. This has implications for the types of processes linking trait levels and changes with future outcomes: distal, cumulative processes versus more immediate, proximal processes, respectively. The present study used seven longitudinal data sets ( = 81,980) to comprehensively examine the unique relationship that changes in the Big Five traits have with static levels and changes in numerous outcomes in the domains of health, education, career, finance, relationships, and civic engagement. Meta-analytic estimates were calculated and study-level variables were examined as potential moderators of these pooled effects. Results indicated that changes in personality traits are sometimes prospectively related to static outcomes-such as health status, degree attainment, unemployment, and volunteering-above and beyond associations due to static trait levels. Moreover, changes in personality more frequently predicted changes in these outcomes, with associations for new outcomes emerging as well (e.g., marriage, divorce). Across all meta-analytic models, the magnitude of effects for changes in traits was never larger than that of static levels and there were fewer change associations. Study-level moderators (e.g., average age, number of Big Five waves, internal consistency estimates) were rarely associated with effects. Our study suggests personality change can play a valuable role in one's development and highlights that both cumulative and proximal processes matter for some trait-outcome associations. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2023 APA, all rights reserved).

Citation Key13841
PubMed ID37384463