Life Events and Personality Change
Presenter: Wiebke Bleidorn, Associate Professor, University of California, Davis
5101 Tolman Hall
A large body of research has shown that personality traits can and do change across the life span. In fact, most people experience medium-sized to large changes in their personality as they traverse adulthood. The observed changes in personality traits have led to a great deal of speculation about the conditions and causes of these changes. While all major theories of personality development stress the role of genetic influences on trait stability and change, accounts differ in the role given to environmental influences, with some emphasizing the impact of major life events such as marriage, the first job, or parenthood. Such theories propose that life events have lasting effects on personality traits because they modify, interrupt, or redirect individuals’ patterns of thoughts, feelings, and behavior. In this talk, I will present recent results of behavioral, genetic, cross-cultural, and longitudinal research on the impact of life events on personality trait change. Taken together, the current state of research provides some evidence that life events can lead to change in personality traits and that different life events may be differently related to specific trait domains.