Think you become “set in your ways” as you get older? Well, yes—as you approach middle age. After that, your personality becomes less stable once more.
A study published in the Journal of Research in Personality has found that stability of personality increases during youth, peaks at middle age, and reduces into old age.
Researchers looked at 4,000 people aged twenty to eighty. They completed short personality questionnaires, twice, two years apart. The questionnaires measured the big five personality traits (extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism, and openness), along with honesty and humility. Researchers then examined how personalities changed over that time.
Turns out, extraversion is the most stable trait, and agreeableness is the least. The main point, however, is that personality stability varies over a lifetime. That is, very young people and very old people were more likely to have wildly different answers over two years; middle age people had very similar results.
So, think you squandered your teen years the first time around? Don’t worry, they’re coming again. Actually, this explains why old folks homes are just high school with wheelchairs.
Photo courtesy of Varin Tsai.