As human beings, change is one of the most constant things in life. It is natural to expect that every aspect of our lives undergoes evolution in one way or the other. However, a subject of great interest has always been whether personality changes or not. Personality is the unique set of characteristics, behaviors, and traits that define an individual. Some may argue that personality is fixed and uniform throughout life, while others believe that it is dynamic and subject to change. In this article, we will explore the surprising answer to the question, ‘Does personality change?’
The answer is yes, but with some conditions
Researchers have concluded that personality can and does change, but not as much as we might like to think.
What are the factors that affect personality change?
Several factors come into play when assessing changes in personality:
- Genetics and biological development
- Life experiences
- Surrounding environments
- Evolving goals and values
While these factors have varying degrees of influence, it’s essential to note that personality change can be subtle, slow, and incremental.
Personality change over time
When evaluating whether personality changes, researchers consider both short and long-term perspectives.
Short-term personality change
Short-term personality change can be as simple as a person changing moods during the day. It can also be influenced by changing environments such as a change in social situations, a change in job, or the presence of new stimuli.
Long-term personality change
On the other hand, long-term personality change occurs over extended periods, and as mentioned earlier, it is not usually drastic. Long-term change happens because of the influence of several factors, including biological, environmental, and cultural factors. For instance, a study by the University of California revealed that individuals’ personalities changed profoundly during adolescence, but these changes slowed down in adulthood.
What causes personality change?
Several factors influence personality changes.
Genetics and biological factors
Studies have shown that genetics play a significant role in personality development, but the extent of the influence is difficult to quantify. Thus, the relationship between genetics and personality is not explicit. Biological factors such as hormonal changes, brain development, and neuronal growth also influence personality change.
Social and environmental factors
Social and environmental factors such as family, culture, and social interactions also influence personality change. A person’s experiences with industrialization, war, globalization, and other socio-economic factors can shape their personality over time. Similarly, individuals’ personalities may undergo significant changes while adapting to new social and cultural settings.
As people age, their goals and values shift, leading to corresponding personality changes. For instance, a person who was once ambitious and hardworking may, over time, prioritize other values, such as family and relaxation, leading to a change in personality traits.
Beware of personality change myths
There are several myths about personality change that are entirely untrue.
Myth: Personalities change after the age of 30.
This statement is untrue. The personality begins to stabilize in childhood, and while personality does evolve over time, it’s essential to remember that significant changes in personality after the age of 30 are rare.
Myth: Traumatic events lead to dramatic personality changes.
While traumatic events can cause people to change, such changes are often transitory. Studies have shown that, with time, many people return to their baseline personalities.
Myth: Therapy can cure personality disorders
It is important to note that therapy cannot “cure” or a “fix” a person’s personality disorder. However, it can help people learn how to manage their difficulties better, leading to an improved quality of life.
Myth: Personality traits do not change.
While researchers generally agree that personality traits are relatively stable throughout life, they can change with experiences or significant events.
The bottom line
Personality is dynamic and subject to change, but not as much as we might think. Genetics, life experiences, and evolving goals and values are among several factors that influence personality. It is worth mentioning that significant changes in personality are rare but not impossible. Thus, when considering ‘does personality change,’ it is essential to remember that change can occur, but it may be subtle and subject to many factors.
Can personality change in adulthood?
While personality changes occur throughout life, the most significant alterations happen during adolescence. After early adulthood, the magnitude of personality changes tends to slow down.
What is the relationship between personality and genetics?
Genetics play a role in personality development, but the extent of the influence is difficult to quantify. It’s worth noting that genetics and personality carry a complex relationship.
Can significant life-changing events cause personality changes?
Life-changing events can cause people to change, but such changes are often transitory. Most people are likely to revert to their baseline personalities over time.
Is it possible to transform my personality?
While transformational changes are rare, subtle alterations can be made to individual personality traits. Such modifications can occur with the help of therapy, guidance, or following a set of objectives and principles.
Does therapy cure personality disorders?
Personality disorders are complex and challenging to dismiss. Studies show that therapy can help people manage their difficulties better and improve their quality of life.
Can changing environments affect personality?
Yes, changing environments can affect personality. A person’s experiences with different cultural and social settings can shape their personality over time.
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- Hirsh, J.B., & Peterson, J.B. (2008). Personal projects and the personality trait of extraversion. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 94(1): 18-28.
- Roberts, B.W., & Del Vecchio, W.F. (2000). The rank-order consistency of personality traits from childhood to old age: A quantitative review of longitudinal studies. Psychological Bulletin, 126(1): 3-25.