Narrating Personality Change

Jennifer Lodi-Smith, Aaron C. Geise, Brent W. Roberts, Richard W. Robins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The present research investigated the longitudinal relations between personality traits and narratives. Specifically, the authors examined how individual differences in 170 college students' narratives of personality change (a) were predicted by personality traits at the beginning of college, (b) related to actual changes and perceived changes in personality traits during college, and (c) related to changes in emotional health during college. Individual differences in narratives of personality trait change told in the 4th year of college fell into 2 dimensions: affective processing, characterized by positive emotions, and exploratory processing, characterized by meaning making and causal processing. Conscientious, open, and extraverted freshmen told exploratory stories of change as seniors. Emotionally healthy freshmen told stories of change that were high in positive affect. Both positive affective and exploratory stories corresponded to change in emotional stability and conscientiousness during college above and beyond the effects of perceived changes in these traits. In addition, both positive affective and exploratory narratives corresponded to increases in emotional health during college independent of the effects of changes in personality traits. These findings improve our understanding of how individuals conceptualize their changing identity over time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)679-689
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of personality and social psychology
Volume96
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2009

Keywords

  • identity
  • maturity
  • narratives
  • personality change
  • personality development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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