Trajectories of Big Five Personality Traits: A Coordinated Analysis of 16 Longitudinal Samples

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Eileen K. Graham, Sara J. Weston, Denis Gerstorf, Tomiko B. Yoneda, Tom Booth, Christopher R. Beam, Andrew J. Petkus, Johanna Drewelies, Andrew N. Hall, Emily D. Bastarache, Ryne Estabrook, Mindy J. Katz, Nicholas A. Turiano, Ulman Lindenberger, Jacqui Smith, Gert G. Wagner, Nancy L. Pedersen, Mathias Allemand, Avron Spiro III, Dorly J.H. Deeg, Boo Johansson, Andrea M. Piccinin, Richard B. Lipton, K. Warner Schaie, Sherry Willis, Chandra A. Reynolds, Ian J. Deary, Scott M. Hofer, Daniel K. Mroczek

In: European Journal of Personality 34 (2020), 3, S. 301-321


This study assessed change in self-reported Big Five personality traits. We conducted a coordinated inte-grative data analysis using data from 16 longitudinal samples, comprising a total sample of over 60 000 participants.We coordinated models across multiple datasets and fit identical multi-level growth models to assess and compare theextent of trait change over time. Quadratic change was assessed in a subset of samples with four or more measure-ment occasions. Across studies, the linear trajectory models revealed declines in conscientiousness, extraversion,and openness. Non-linear models suggested late-life increases in neuroticism. Meta-analytic summaries indicated thatthe fixed effects of personality change are somewhat heterogeneous and that the variability in trait change is partiallyexplained by sample age, country of origin, and personality measurement method. We also found mixed evidence forpredictors of change, specifically for sex and baseline age. This study demonstrates the importance of coordinatedconceptual replications for accelerating the accumulation of robust and reliable findings in the lifespan developmen-tal psychological sciences.

Gert G. Wagner

Senior Research Fellow in the German Socio-Economic Panel study Department

Topics: Personality

Keywords: personality change; lifespan development; coordinated integrative data analysis; IALSA; replication; open science