Is it Possible for Personalities to Change?

Personality banner 1For a long time now it has been thought that personalities do not change. That, when we get to the age of 30, our personality is pretty well engraved into us, and that we are more likely to stay that way.

However, now, it is being thought that throughout our lives our personality can in fact change. Studies using personality tests over time have shown that people don’t give exactly the same answers at different points in their lives. But it is still under question whether this is due to the test in general, rather than the effects of life. And are these changes even meaningful? Do they actually have an effect on our lives?

Boyce et al (2013) looked for the Big 5 personality traits in their participants; extroversion, agreeableness, openness to experience, conscientiousness, and neuroticism. They took the scores of over 8,000 Australian participants over two years, in the hope this may indicate whether any changes in personality lead to a change in well being.

It was confirmed, in this study, that personality was the best predictor of satisfaction in life; a possible explanation as to why some people can have everything and not ever feel satisfied, whilst others can have nothing and still be content. It’s clearly not just what you own or what you surround yourself with, it’s the way you think about things, and your personality that has a major influence on life satisfaction.

They did also confirm that there were personality changes over the two years of the experiment, although much of these were due to life changes (such as marital status, and employment). This doesn’t stop the significant implications of these finding however, as Boyce and colleagues found that these changes were associated with changes in satisfaction with life. And this effect was about twice as strong for personality change as it was for other circumstances – meaning that personality has a larger effect on life satisfaction than changes such as marriage, or income, added together.


Written by: Philippa Berry

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