Are all kids alike? The magnitude of individual differences in personality characteristics tends to increase from early childhood to early adolescence

Rene Mottus, Christopher Soto, Helena Slobodskaya

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Do individual differences in personality traits become more or less pronounced over childhood and adolescence? The present research examined age differences in the variance of a range of personality traits, using parent-reports of two large samples of children from predominantly the United States and Russia, respectively. Results indicate (a) that individual differences in most traits tend to increase with age from early childhood into early adolescence and then plateau, (b) that this general pattern of greater personality variance at older childhood age is consistent across the two countries, and (c) that this pattern is not an artifact of age differences in means or floor/ceiling effects. These findings are consistent with several (noncontradictory) developmental mechanisms, including youths’ expanding behavioral capacities and person-environment transactions (corresponsive principle). However, these mechanisms may predominantly characterize periods before adolescence, or they may be offset by countervailing processes, such as socialization pressure towards a mature personality profile, in late adolescence and adulthood. Finally, the findings also suggest that interpreting age-trajectories in mean trait scores as pertaining to age differences in a typical person may sometimes be misleading. Investigating variance should become an integral part of studying personality development.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)313-328
JournalEuropean Journal of Personality
Volume31
Issue number4
Early online date4 Jul 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2017

Keywords

  • little six
  • variance
  • development
  • corresponsive principle
  • transactions

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