Volitional personality trait change: Can people choose to change their personality traits?

  title={Volitional personality trait change: Can people choose to change their personality traits?},
  author={Nathan W. Hudson and R. Chris Fraley},
  journal={Journal of personality and social psychology},
  volume={109 3},
Previous research has found that most people want to change their personality traits. But can people actually change their personalities just because they want to? To answer this question, we conducted 2, 16-week intensive longitudinal randomized experiments. Across both studies, people who expressed goals to increase with respect to any Big Five personality trait at Time 1 tended to experience actual increases in their self-reports of that trait-as well as trait-relevant daily behavior-over… 

You have to follow through: Attaining behavioral change goals predicts volitional personality change.

Results indicated that merely accepting behavioral challenges did not predict trait changes; only actually completing challenges predicted trait change over time; successfully changing one's personality traits may require actively and successfully implementing behaviors to change oneself.

Assessing the Desire to Change Personality across Methods

This study is the first to assess personality change desires with multiple methods in the same sample (N = 500 undergraduates), and methods were compared within-person to explore how the same person might provide different information about their desire to change their personality with each method.

Changing for the Better? Longitudinal Associations Between Volitional Personality Change and Psychological Well-Being

Results indicated that possessing change goals did not necessarily predict growing deficits in well-being over time, and people who were able to change their personality traits in ways that aligned with their desires tended to experience increases in well being over time.

Do People Want to Be More Moral?

It is suggested that moral considerations take a back seat when it comes to self-improvement and targets’ moral change goals were less calibrated to their current trait levels.

Do People’s Desires to Change Their Personality Traits Vary With Age? An Examination of Trait Change Goals Across Adulthood

Research suggests most people want to change their personality traits. Existing studies have, however, almost exclusively examined college-aged samples. Thus, it remains unclear whether older adults

Lay Conceptions of Volitional Personality Change: From Strategies Pursued to Stories Told.

Lay conceptions of this volitional personality change process suggest that individuals hold a diverse range of desired changes and strategies, and different categories of events are recognized as catalysts of desires for (and previous) changes.

The Handbook of Personality Dynamics and Processes




Theory-driven intervention for changing personality: expectancy value theory, behavioral activation, and conscientiousness.

This article proposes a set of guiding principles for theory-driven modification of targeted personality traits using a bottom-up approach, focusing specifically on targeting the trait of conscientiousness using a relevant behavioral intervention, Behavioral Activation (BA), considered within the motivational framework of expectancy value theory (EVT).

Personality Trait Change in Adulthood

The evidence for mean-level change in personality traits, as well as for individual differences in change across the life span, is reviewed.

Age changes in personality and their origins: comment on Roberts, Walton, and Viechtbauer (2006).

The results of their meta-analysis are consistent with the conclusions about modest change after age 30 and the origins of age changes might be found either in environmental influences common to all cultures or in biologically based intrinsic maturation.

Personality Trait Development and Social Investment in Work.

Patterns of mean-level change in personality traits across the life course: a meta-analysis of longitudinal studies.

The present study used meta-analytic techniques to determine the patterns of mean-level change in personality traits across the life course and showed that people increase in measures of social dominance, conscientiousness, and emotional stability in young adulthood and decrease in both of these domains in old age.

Personality development across the life span: longitudinal analyses with a national sample from Germany.

Longitudinal data from a national sample of Germans showed that differential stability was relatively strong among all age groups but that it increased among young adults, peaked in later life, and then declined among the oldest old.

Social Investment and Personality: A Meta-Analysis of the Relationship of Personality Traits to Investment in Work, Family, Religion, and Volunteerism

  • J. Lodi-SmithB. Roberts
  • Psychology
    Personality and social psychology review : an official journal of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, Inc
  • 2007
Results show that the extent of investment in social roles across these domains is positively related to agreeableness, conscientiousness, emotional stability, and low psychoticism.

Can an old dog learn (and want to experience) new tricks? Cognitive training increases openness to experience in older adults.

Results indicate that participants in the intervention condition increased in the trait of openness compared with a waitlist control group, one of the first to demonstrate that personality traits can change through nonpsychopharmocological interventions.

Sociogenomic personality psychology.

Sciogenomic biology is introduced, which directly contradicts the widely held assumption that something that is biological, heritable, or temperamental, is unchangeable and is synthesized in a model of personality traits that integrates this more modern perspective on biology, physiology, and environment that is term sociogenomic personality psychology.