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Links:      •  Self Test
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decorative star graphic  Adulthood:
Psychosocial Development
- Personality through Adulthood -

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Ψ  Longitudinal & cross-sectional research finds five basic clusters of personality traits that remain stable throughout adulthood.

Ψ  The BIG FIVE clusters of personality traits:

  1. Openness: imaginative, curious, artistic, open to new experiences
  2. Conscientiousness: organized, deliberate & conforming
  3. Extroversion: outgoing, assertive & active
  4. Agreeableness: kind, helpful & easygoing
  5. Neuroticism: anxious, moody & self-punishing
Ψ  Big 5 Memory Aid: OCEAN

Ψ  In pinpointing the reasons for the apparent consistency of some traits, researchers note the importance of genes, culture, early child rearing and the experiences and choices made during late adolescence and early adulthood.

Ψ  The manifestation of these traits is usually stable by age 30, when most people have settled into an ecological niche - including vocations, mates, neighborhood and daily routines, that are compatible with their particular personality needs and interests.

Ψ  Age-related shifts in adult personality generally reflect whatever traits are valued in one’s culture at the time – including a tendency toward self-improvement & greater generativity.

Ψ  Gender Crossover: the idea that each sex takes on the other sex’s roles and traits in later life; this idea is disputed, but there is no doubt that maleness and femaleness become less salient (prominent) in middle age.


  • Crossover (switching roles)
  • Convergence (coming together)

Ψ  Gender convergence may be caused by reduced levels of sex hormones, which may allow men and women to express previously suppressed traits.

Growth & Development
Robert C. Gates
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