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based on a self-report personality questionnaire. This poses two potential
problems in the present context. First, social desirability and other
response style tendencies may limit the validity of self-report personality
scales (Paulhus, 1991; but see Piedmont, McCrae, Riemann, & Angleitner, 2000). Second, personality scale responses may be influenced by
people’s beliefs about how they have changed during young adulthood.
For example, if the participants in our study believe that college is a time
of increasing maturity and adjustment, then their personality self-reports
may have shifted in the direction of appearing more mature, producing
apparent declines in negative traits and increases in positive traits. Thus,
the findings need to be replicated using non-self-report measures of
personality such as peer or parent ratings.
Another issue worthy of future research concerns the stability of
personality across different levels of analysis. In this article, we focused
on basic personality traits. However, numerous levels exist in the study
of personality (e.g., Emmons, 1995; McAdams, 1995), ranging from
unconscious defenses to life stories. It is possible that each level exhibits
distinct patterns of continuity and change over the life course (Conley,
1985; McAdams, 1994). In fact, it may be the case that when people are
considering how their own personality has changed, they are more in tune
with changes in their personal goals, relationships, and memorable life
experiences, than changes in their basic personality traits (Thorne, 1989).
Future research on continuity and change across different units of personality would contribute enormously to our understanding of personality development.
Finally, although the present findings help us understand the degree to
which people change during the transition to young adulthood, they do
not tell us why these changes occur. That is, we have not explored the
psychological and contextual factors that produce personality change.
One important avenue for future res...
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- Fall '10
- Big Five personality traits, personality change, young adulthood