Personality development and growth in women across 30 years: Three perspectives

Brent W. Roberts, Ravenna Helson, Eva C. Klohnen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


This article addresses three questions about personality development in a 30-year longitudinal study of women (N = 78): (1) To what extent did the women maintain the same position in relation to each other on personality characteristics over the 30 years, and what broad factors were related to the amount of change in their rank order? (2) Did the sample as a whole increase or decrease over time on indices of personality growth, and did they change in ways distinctive to women? (3) Were experiential factors associated with individual differences in the amount of change? Results showed that personality was quite consistent while also showing that time interval was positively related to rank-order change and age was negatively related to rank-order change. Over the period from age 21 to age 52, the women increased on measures of norm-orientation and complexity and showed changes on measures of Dominance and Femininity/Masculinity consistent with the hypothesis that changing sex roles would lead to increases in Dominance and increases, then decreases, in Femininity/Masculinity. A third set of results showed that changes in Dominance and Femininity/Masculinity were associated with life circumstances such as marital tension, divorce, and participation in the paid labor force. The implications of the findings for personality development and growth are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)79-102
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Personality
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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