Goal and personality trait development in emerging adulthood

Brent W. Roberts, Megan O'Donnell, Richard W. Robins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The present research examined continuity and change in the importance of major life goals and the relation between change in goals and change in personality traits over the course of college (N = 298). Participants rated the importance of their life goals 6 times over a 4-year period and completed a measure of the Big Five personality traits at the beginning and end of college. Like personality traits, life goals demonstrated high levels of rank-order stability. Unlike personality traits assessed during the same period and in the same sample, the mean importance of most life goals decreased over time. Moreover, each goal domain was marked by significant individual differences in change, and these individual differences were related to changes in personality traits. These findings provide insights into the relatively unstudied question of how life goals change during emerging adulthood.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)541-550
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of personality and social psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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