Unformatted text preview: A Longitudinal Study of Personality
Change in Young Adulthood
Richard W. Robins
University of California, Davis R. Chris Fraley
University of Illinois, Chicago Brent W. Roberts
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign Kali H. Trzesniewski
University of California, Davis
ABSTRACT The present research examined personality continuity and
change in a sample of young men and women assessed at the beginning and end
of college. Two-hundred seventy students completed measures of the Big Five
personality traits when they first entered college and then 4 years later. Analyses
indicate small- to medium-sized normative (i.e., mean-level) changes, large
rank-order stability correlations, high levels of stability in personality structure,
and moderate levels of ipsative (i.e. profile) stability. Overall, the findings are
consistent with the perspective that personality traits exhibit considerable continuity over time, yet can change in systematic ways. This research was funded by a Faculty Research Grant from the University of California
at Davis, an Office of Educational Research Grant from the University of California at
Berkeley, and a National Institute of Mental Health grant (MH – 61829). We thank
Jennifer Pals, Sanjay Srivastava, and Jessica Tracy for their comments on a draft of this
paper, and Keith Widaman for his statistical advice.
Journal of Personality 69:4, August 2001.
Copyright © 2001 by Blackwell Publishers, 350 Main Street, Malden, MA 02148,
USA, and 108 Cowley Road, Oxford, OX4 1JF, UK. 618 Robins et al. Young adulthood is a period of considerable opportunity and challenge.
Many young adults move away from home for the first time, begin college
and full-time jobs, or marry and have children. Personality theorists and
developmental psychologists have highlighted the importance of this
period, describing the complex challenges that young adults face and the
patterns of adaptation that follow from their resolution (Arnett, 2000;
Erikson, 1963; Helson, 1983; White, 1966). G...
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