Changing personality traits with the help of a digital personality change intervention

Mirjam Stieger, Christoph Flückiger, Dominik Rüegger, Tobias Kowatsch, Brent W. Roberts, Mathias Allemand

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Personality traits predict important life outcomes, such as success in love and work life, well-being, health, and longevity. Given these positive relations to important outcomes, economists, policy makers, and scientists have proposed intervening to change personality traits to promote positive life outcomes. However, nonclinical interventions to change personality traits are lacking so far in large-scale naturalistic populations. This study (n = 1,523) examined the effects of a 3-mo digital personality change intervention using a randomized controlled trial and the smartphone application PEACH (PErsonality coACH). Participants who received the intervention showed greater self-reported changes compared to participants in the waitlist control group who had to wait 1 mo before receiving the intervention. Self-reported changes aligned with intended goals for change and were significant for those desiring to increase on a trait (d = 0.52) and for those desiring to decrease on a trait (d = −0.58). Observers such as friends, family members, or intimate partners also detected significant personality changes in the desired direction for those desiring to increase on a trait (d = 0.35). Observer-reported changes for those desiring to decrease on a trait were not significant (d = −0.22). Moreover, self- and observer-reported changes persisted until 3 mo after the end of the intervention. This work provides the strongest evidence to date that normal personality traits can be changed through intervention in nonclinical samples.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2017548118
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Volume118
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 23 2021

Keywords

  • Digital intervention
  • PEACH
  • Personality change
  • Randomized controlled trial

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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