Personality Development In Adulthood: Stability Versus Change (The Case…
Personality Development In Adulthood:
Stability Versus Change
The Case For Stability
is predicated on Trait Theory, where traits are defined as "any distinguishable, relatively enduring way that one individual differs from another" and assumes that very little personality changes occur throughout adulthood.
The Five Factor Model
specifically takes into account personality development across adulthood as it was founded using longitudinal, cross-sectional, and sequential research. The Five Factor Model has
five independent dimensions personality
High levels of extraversion correlates with occupational interests and values. People high in extraversion seek out jobs that involve working with other people, whereas people low in extraversion prioritize task orientated jobs.
Thrives on crowds and social interaction
Natural leaders who take charge easily, make up their own minds and express their thoughts with ease.
Friendly, compassionate and tend to interact in an intimate manner.
Associated with endless energy, quick speech, and a constant want to be on the go.
People high in neuroticism tend to be high in all the neurotic traits. This results in negative and potentially violent emotions which impacts the ability to handle problems and get along with other people.
Hostility is the the underlying trait for anger, a fundamental emotion. People who are high in the hostile trait are irritable and less socially agreeable.
Self-consciousness is linked to the emotion shame. People who are high in self-consciousness are more sensitive to criticism, teasing and feelings of inferiority
Impulsiveness is the tendency to give into temptations and desires as a result of being lacking in willpower and self-control. This generally results in excess seeking behaviour.
Vulnerability pertains to a lower ability to deal with stressful events. Vulnerable people are more likely to panic and depend on others during stressful situations.
Depression is linked to the emotion sorrow. People who are high in depression experience feelings of sadness, hopelessness, loneliness, guilt and low self worth.
Anxiety is the underlying trait for fear, a fundamental emotion. Those who are high in the trait anxiety are nervous, high-strung, tense, worried, and pessimistic.
Openness To Experience
Open people tend to work in jobs that prioritize theoretical thought over economic values.
Willingness to try new things with an emphasis on variety over routine.
Experience feelings strongly to the point of perceiving them as a source of existential meaning.
Appreciation for art and beauty.
Curious and value acquiring knowledge for the sake of having knowledge.
Vivid imagination and active dream life.
Open minded in their values and acknowledge what works for them might not work for someone else.
is understood in terms of it being the antonym of antagonism. Antagonistic people are often rude, not trusting, skeptical and unsympathetic. However, antagonism may have some adaptive functionality in facilitating skillful manipulation and achieving ones goals aggressively. While scoring high on agreeableness is indicative of being a pleasant all-round type person, it may also come at the expensive of oneself.
A high conscientiousness score is indicative of being hardworking, energetic, scrupulous , ambitious and persevering which typically manifests as a desire to "make something of themselves".
Dispositional Traits Across Adulthood
Evidence For Change
Advancements in statistical techniques
has lead to the supposition that the
way people differ in their personality becomes more salient with age
. Extraversion increases, openness decreases, and agreeableness increases. Whereas conscientiousness peaks at middle age and neuroticism seems to disappear almost entirely later on in life.
coined terminology to reconcile these differences.
describes developmental changes in terms of their adaptive function within society. In terms of the five factor model, this would explain the absence of neuroticism, and increase in agreeableness and conscientiousness as they serve adaptive functionality and allow older adults to maintain levels of well-being despite the numerous challenges that occur in late adulthood.
describes the individuals ideal end states in terms of increased self-transcendence, wisdom and integrity. However, Ideal end states do not occur for everyone, which places a greater emphasis on Personality Adjustment. Staudinger asserts the decrease in openness to new experiences with age is explained by its relationship to personal maturity which is posited to decline with age. Lastly, it is argued that personal growth is rare and does not occur unless specific events or environmental factors force it to occur.
Evidence For Stability
Costa and McCrae
found that the traits that make up their model remain stable throughout adulthood and posit that personality traits stop developing after 30 years of age, with correlations ranging between .68 and .85 over a 12 year period.
Martin et al
conducted a longitudinal study using 60-, 80- and 100-year-olds and found no significant changes in personality patterns. However, an increase in suspiciousness and sensitivity was noted and posited to be caused by an increase in wariness towards victimization in older adulthood.
shows that stability has been observed over a 7 year longitudinal period up to even a 30 year period, This evidence is indicative of self-reported personality traits being consistent for periods of up to 30 years, between the ages of 20 and 90 years.
The Case For Change
is predicated on analyzing personality in a purely contextual manner, which is labeled as
. It is posited that personality constructs at this level cannot be reduced to traits and need to viewed in the context of what a person is trying to achieve during that particular period of their life. Although the study of personal concerns lacks in empirical data, there are plenty of theoretical suppositions that support it.
broke with Freud when he argued that personality development continued in adulthood. Jungian Theory asserted that each aspect of ones personality must be harmonious with the other parts.
pertains to how Jung has labelled what he views as two orientations of the ego, one side focuses on the internal subjective world, and the other focuses on the external world. He argues that the relationship between these two orientations are age related.
are more extraverted due to social needs such as finding a partner and having a career
have the need for balance that results in a more inward approach to explore the feelings that come with aging such as dealing with mortality.
, Jung posits that everyone has both masculine and feminine sides to their personality.
attempt to express the side that most fits with
the gender-role stereotype that fits their culture.
focus on their individual needs as opposed to social pressure and tend to find a balance between the two sides.
made note of the cultural context of personality development. He asserted that personality is predicated on the relationship between ones inner maturation plan and the demands of society, and thus posited that a life cycle has eight stages of development where the sequence of stages is biologically fixed.
Erikson's Theory Of Psychosocial Development
Erikson argues that in each stage, a person is struggling between two opposing tendencies. The struggle is then resolved, either successfully which facilitates psychosocial development, or unsuccessfully which impairs development in that area and may impact future areas of psychosocial development.
Trust versus mistrust
Autonomy versus Shame and Doubt
Initiative versus Guilt
Industry versus Inferiority
Identity versus Identity Confusion
Intimacy versus Isolation
Generativity versus Stagnation
Integrity versus Despair
While there are many arguments against Erikson's Theory, such as the definitions being poorly defined or unclear, or that the cycle can actually be repeated regardless of biological age. The biggest complaints are with regards to the stage of Adulthood and generativity, insofar that this struggle is predicated on context and happen intermittently, as opposed to constantly.
refers to taking actions that positively effects future generations
McAdam's Multimodal Model of Generativity
In an effort to quantify the relationship between adulthood and generativity McAdam's created a model to demonstrate how generativity results from interactions between societal and internal forces. Tension occurs from wanting to create a product or outcome that outlives oneself while simultaneously wanting to help and guide the next generation. A positive resolution of this tension could be exemplified by a middle-aged person starting a charity.
is a persons general tendency towards caring for younger people.
is the actual process of taking action that benefits younger generations.
show less concern with generative behaviour than
adults show the most concern with
such as putting money towards their children's education, which suggests that the capacity for generitivity peaks in the middle of ones life but still continues in late adulthood.
The Midlife Crisis
is often in depicted in the media as a man leaving his wife to be with a woman half his age. This caricature has lead to the assumption that the midlife crisis is a normative experience. However this may not be the case.
There is little evidence that suggests that this time period is significantly more difficult or traumatic than any other, although one study suggests that middle aged men tend go through depression during this stage. However, that may just be a case of experiencing psychopathology as other studies have failed to replicate those results. Moreover, the notion of midlife crisis is primary linked to western cultures which emphasis the relationship between cultural context and adult development.
Time of Gains and Losses
it is, however, posited that the middle of ones life is the time in which what has been gained and what has been lost is most salient. However this does not necessarily entail a crisis and could lead to increased feelings of well-being and meaning.