I love my job.
Many days, I write daily medical discoveries with a great deal of excitement.
And today is one of those days.
Because an unusually important and interesting study just came out.
And I’m glad to be able to share it with you.
People talk about types of personality all the time.
But what determines it?
And can a person change their personality?
These researchers attempted to answer a question that so many of us ask.
How much can we change our personality?
The pessimistic view says that we cannot change our personality.
Let’s take a person who is impulsive, and who takes too many risks and chances.
The pessimistic view says that even when they get older, this person won’t change.
They will still be impulsive, and take too many risks and chances.
That’s the pessimistic view.
The optimistic view is that we can change many things about our personality and our behavior even into old age.
There are entire industries built on how people can change their behavior.
That’s the optimistic viewpoint.
And it’s my belief and, this study bears that out.
Our story starts in 1947 in Scotland.
Teachers rated each student on six personality characteristics.
The students were around age 14.
Then decades later, researchers decided to locate the students,
They intended to rate them and see how their personality had evolved.
How much of their personality was stable and how much had it changed over many decades?
One of the interesting pieces of this study that emerged among those students who responded in 2012 to the follow-up study.
The researchers note:
Those 174 who completed the questionnaire had higher cognitive ability scores as children and were rated by teachers as more dependable, on average, than the population as a whole.
So, here are the six things that the teachers rated their students on back in 1947:
The researchers added a lot more data over the years as they studied these people all the way through 2013.
So let’s start with overall dependability.
The researchers found that the 14-year-olds rated with certain traits were overall “dependable.”
They possessed traits such as conscientiousness, had relatively stable moods and a certain degree of self-confidence.
But that did not carry on necessarily through to old age.
And dependability might be low in adolescents but then would go up and up and up during the rest of one’s life.
But the stability of moods and conscientiousness did not change that much with most people.
Stability of Moods and Conscientiousness did show moderate 63-year stability under this model.
And what about people who performed well on intelligence tests, “smarter people?”
These people tended to have a higher moods stability overall throughout their life.
What changed the most was confidence and originality.
These changes could be because the teachers originally gave the students their ratings.
They may not have been objective enough.
But over the entire life of this model of 63 years, it does seem that confidence levels can change quite a bit.
This is good news if you lack confidence
You can become more confident in a relatively short time as this study shows.
Men can change their confidence themselves.
While their confidence can be shattered by how they handle the events of life.
But the big find of the study was that personality changes a great deal through life.
As the researchers conclude:
results generally indicated very low stability of personality from age 14 to age 77 years.
This is the optimistic view.
And it’s shown clearly in this important study.
Even if you are very old, you can still make changes in your personality that can make a dramatic difference in your life.