There is long-standing research to support the belief that our basic personality traits are set in our youth and do not change much as we age. A recent study, conducted by researchers at the University of Edinburgh, and reported in the Journal of Psychology and Aging, challenges this idea.

The study measured personality traits in 14- year-olds and then revisited those adolescents 60 years later. Six aspects of personality were measured: self confidence, conscientiousness, perseverance, desire to excel, originality, and stability of mood.

The results were fascinating. They showed that the adult personalities had almost no correlation to the personalities of their adolescent selves. Does this surprise you?

 
 

Are You Anything Like Your Teenage Self?

When I compare my teenage self to my adult self, some of those traits remain constant. I am still dedicated and hardworking and have a strong desire to succeed in my life and work. Those traits allowed me to find success in school and activities in my teens, and later in my career. These measures of conscientiousness, perseverance, and desire to excel have changed form, but remain present in my life.

The nature of adolescence would seem to play a big role in mood stability. During adolescence, hormones run rampant and teenagers are notoriously moody. I am not at all surprised that adults in this study showed a change in mood stability. I am no longer the moody 14-year-old I once was.

What Qualities Did You Demonstrate in Adolescence?

As for originality, we might want to consider what that looks like. Adolescence is time when many teens feel a strong pull to fit in with the crowd rather than stand out. Originality might show up in the form of creative passions such as music or art, but also might be hidden to conform. I was a very creative child but suppressed much of my creativity as an adolescent. Today, I revel in original and visionary thinking.

The area of most change for me, and I suspect for others my age, is in self-confidence. I did not have much self-confidence as an adolescent. I struggled with this throughout my life, and it is only now that I am becoming stronger and more confident in the knowledge of who I am and what I can do. Age has given me the experience and wisdom to understand my worth.

Do Our Basic Personality Traits Change?

Life experience and the information we learn through the years does change us. We grow through our trials and change our ideas, values and beliefs. Do our basic personality traits change? That is a good question and worthy of thought and discussion.

What about you? What similarities do you notice between your teenage self and the woman you are today? Do you think your basic personality has changed since you were an adolescent? This has the makings of a very interesting and lively conversation. I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Michele Meier VosbergMichele Meier Vosberg, Ph.D. is a writer and freelance educator. She left her career of over thirty years in order to create the life of her dreams. She is passionate about helping others understand their unique personality and gifts and design their best lives. Michele is married, has two grown daughters and lives in Madison, Wisconsin. Connect with Michele at liferedesign101.com

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