Personality in old and very old age: stability but also change

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper

Abstract / Description of output

Personality development in old age is a largely underexplored area, especially in the ninth decade of life. Lothian Birth Cohorts 1936 and 1921 were used to study the longitudinal stability and change of Five-Factor Model personality traits from ages 69 to 72 years and from ages 81 to 87 years, and cross-cohort stability and mean-level differences between ages 69 and 81 years. Measurements within the FFM framework appeared to be adequately stable both within and across cohorts, and high rank-order stability was observed in both cohorts. Almost no mean-level change was observed in the younger cohort, whereas Extraversion, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness and Intellect declined somewhat in the older cohort. The older cohort scored higher in Agreeableness and Conscientiousness. Modest differences in change trajectories were not significantly associated with cognitive functioning, physical fitness, or independent functioning, or changes in them but were related to changes in emotional distress. We infer that stable individual differences continue to exist in old and very old age along with potentially accelerating mean-level changes. The individual differences in personality development are probably not related to the arguably important aspects of aging per se but rather to people’s attitudes toward and ability to cope with those changes.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 27 Jul 2011
EventInternational Society for the Study of Individual Differences (ISSID 2011) - London, United Kingdom
Duration: 25 Jul 201128 Jul 2011


ConferenceInternational Society for the Study of Individual Differences (ISSID 2011)
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


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