Personality Changes Predict Early Career Outcomes: Discovery and Replication in 12-Year Longitudinal Studies

Kevin A Hoff, Sif Einarsdóttir, Chu Chu, Daniel A Briley, James Rounds

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this research, we examined whether personality changes from adolescence to young adulthood predicted five early career outcomes: degree attainment, income, occupational prestige, career satisfaction, and job satisfaction. The study used two representative samples of Icelandic youth (Sample 1: n = 485, Sample 2: n = 1,290) and measured personality traits over 12 years (ages ~17 to 29 years). Results revealed that certain patterns of personality growth predicted career outcomes over and above adolescent trait levels and crystallized ability. Across both samples, the strongest effects were found for growth in emotional stability (income and career satisfaction), conscientiousness (career satisfaction), and extraversion (career satisfaction and job satisfaction). Initial trait levels also predicted career success, highlighting the long-term predictive power of personality. Overall, our findings show that personality has important effects on early career outcomes-both through stable trait levels and how people change over time. We discuss implications for public policy, for theoretical principles of personality development, and for young people making career decisions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)64-79
Number of pages16
JournalPsychological Science
Issue number1
Early online dateNov 23 2020
StatePublished - Jan 2021


  • career success
  • development
  • longitudinal
  • personality
  • preregistered
  • replication

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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