Adversity in adolescence predicts personality trait change from childhood to adulthood

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Journal of Research in Personality, ISSN: 0092-6566, Vol: 67, Page: 171-182

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Rebecca L. Shiner; Timothy A. Allen; Ann S. Masten
Elsevier BV
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This study examined whether cumulative adversity in adolescence predicted changes in the Big Five traits from childhood to adulthood in the Project Competence Longitudinal Study sample (N = 205) followed from childhood (age 10) through adolescence into adulthood (age 30). Personality traits were measured in childhood through multiple methods and in adulthood by self-report. Cumulative adversity, assessed in adolescence, differentiated independent adversity (likely unrelated to participants’ behavior) from dependent adversity (resulting from participants’ own behavior). Participants’ personality traits were modestly stable over 20 years, although Openness showed greater stability. Independent and dependent adversity predicted increases in Negative Emotionality/Neuroticism, and dependent adversity predicted decreases in Constraint/Conscientiousness and Agreeableness from childhood to adulthood, suggesting that cumulative adversity shapes personality development in young people.