Personality development in adulthood: The broad picture and processes in one longitudinal sample

Ravenna Helson, Sau Kwan

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

26 Scopus citations


The authors suggest that personality is a relatively enduring organization of motives and resources that helps the individual adapt to changes over the life-span and that undergoes modifications itself in the process. Supporting this position are the findings of recent studies of rank-order consistency and of normative change on personality inventories in both cross-sectional and longitudinal samples. Rank-order consistency does not reach a peak until late middle age and is never complete. Cross-sectional studies using a variety of inventories in a variety of cultural settings suggest that people increase in norm-orientation (control) with age and decrease in intensity of social involvement. Results show no consistent relation to age for social assurance and complexity; some relationships are curvilinear. Three longitudinal samples representing different birth cohorts show findings similar to those of the cross-sectional studies. However, the longitudinal studies show that different samples change on different aspects of norm-orientation and social involvement, in different amounts, and at different times, consistent with the idea that each sample faced a distinctive course of adaptational challenges. Findings from the Mills Longitudinal Study test hypotheses about the relation of gender, life style, and social influences such as the women’s movement to personality change. They demonstrate generality across samples in some studies and explore cohort differences in others. Two kinds of personality change involved in adult development are described, and studies of how personality changes in terms of self and identity processes are illustrated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAdvances in Personality Psychology
Subtitle of host publicationVolume 1
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages30
ISBN (Electronic)9781317797753
ISBN (Print)9780415227681
StatePublished - Jan 14 2014
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


Dive into the research topics of 'Personality development in adulthood: The broad picture and processes in one longitudinal sample'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this