Third although two wave longitudinal studies can

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Unformatted text preview: tifactually produced an apparent decline in Neuroticism over the course of college, as participants returned to their baseline levels. This problem could be addressed by studies that assess personality prior to college or that include additional waves of data throughout the college period. Third, although two-wave longitudinal studies can provide information about the amount of change across a given time period, they do not provide a way to chart the precise change trajectory. Most notably, with two assessment points, only linear (or straight-line) change can be measured. However, patterns of personality change (both at the individual and mean level) are likely to be non-linear and dynamic (e.g., Brown & Moskowitz, 1998; Nesselroade & Boker, 1994). For example, if a person’s Neuroticism level increased sharply during the 1st year of college but then gradually returned to the initial level over the course of college, this person would show no change according to our measures. Thus, measures of linear change may underestimate the amount of change actually occurring during college, and more generally mischaracterize the precise trajectory of personality change. Future research should use methods to assess non-linear developmental trajectories, including growth curve modeling across multiple waves of data. In addition to these concerns about two-wave designs, our longitudinal study does not allow us to disentangle age and period (i.e., year of 634 Robins et al. assessment) effects, and it does not allow us to examine cohort effects. It is possible that other cohorts of college students (and young adults) will not show the same personality changes observed in the present study. However, this concern is somewhat ameliorated by the fact that our findings are generally consistent with previous studies based on earlier cohorts. Nonetheless, the use of a cohort-sequential design (Nesselroade & Baltes, 1979) in which multiple cohorts are followed longitudinally would greatly benefit research on personality change. Another limitation of our measure of personality change is that it...
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