How many times have we heard, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks?” The common wisdom is people do not change, and that a personality is a personality. Most of believe that there is minor change in that core personality over time.
What makes up that particular personality is a pattern of thinking, doing and feeling. Researchers tend to look at five aspects of personality, as these in combination determine much of human behavior. These are:
1. Extraversion vs Introversion
2. Negative Emotionality vs Calm & Emotionally Resilient
3. Open-mindedness vs Closed-mindedness
4. Agreeable/Compassionate vs Augmentative/Judgmental
5. Conscientiousness/Work Ethic vs Irresponsible/Disorganized
These patterns DO tend to be stable over time, and certainly many people remain basically the same as they were as teenagers. Yet, multiple studies now point to an encouraging and exciting conclusion.
Personalities Change Dramatically Over a Lifetime, and Usually for the Better.
Research now strongly supports the conclusion that people do change, and it is usually for the better. There are always exceptions, of course. But overall, the data is indicating that humans tend to evolve over a lifetime in several positive ways.
Conscientiousness: Between 20 and 30, studies suggest that many of those irresponsible and ‘lazy’ teenagers seem to get their life together. They take on real jobs, start showing up on time and begin to work hard. This continues to evolve through mid-life.
Agreeableness: While this trait seems to remain stable into our 30’s, between 30 and…
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