Second personality scale responses may be influenced

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Unformatted text preview: is 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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