Almost All People Want to Change Their Personality, Study Finds

A large-scale study by Hudson and Fraley (2016), published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science, finds that almost all people between the ages of 18 to 70 want to change aspects of their personality.

On the basis of data from 6,800 adults, the authors examined the degree to which people wanted to change in either of the big five personality traits: extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, emotional stability, and openness to experience.

The study finds that almost all people, i.e. a minimum of 78% of people of any age, want to increase in each of the big five dimensions.

That said, the study also finds that change goals are slightly less prevalent among older adults, and older adults desire slightly smaller increases in each trait. The authors consider this effect as small as change goals prevalence decreases an average of only 9% over the life course.

Research has shown that the big five personality traits tend to increase throughout adulthood, and therefore, people’s change goals may also decrease over time (referring to the aforementioned 9%).

Change goals are likely related to unique life tasks. Young adults and older adults have different life tasks, so they also have different change goals.

For example, the study shows that young adults prefer emotional stability over agreeableness, meaning that emotional stability is valued more in a young person’s life.

So, it appears from this research that we are in a lifelong personality project. I wish you the best of luck.

Photo: Ashton Pal