How You Have Changed Since You Were a Teenager: a LOT!

How You Have Changed Since You Were a Teenager: a LOT!

As someone in the self-help industry, I find this study highly encouraging.

“The longest personality study of all time, published in Psychology and Aging and recently highlighted by the British Psychological Society, suggests that over the course of a lifetime, just as your physical appearance changes and your cells are constantly replaced, your personality is also transformed beyond recognition.”

Wha-? How is that even possible? Doesn’t everybody feel a bit like taller, fatter, wealthier versions of our 13-year-old selves? Maybe. But that doesn’t mean our perceptions are accurate.

The study begins with data from a 1950 survey of 1,208 14-year-olds in Scotland. Teachers were asked to use six questionnaires to rate the teenagers on six personality traits: self-confidence, perseverance, stability of moods, conscientiousness, originality, and desire to learn. Together, the results from these questionnaires were amalgamated into a rating for one trait, which was defined as “dependability.” More than six decades later, researchers tracked down 635 of the participants, and 174 agreed to repeat testing.”

This may give solace to women who want evidence that their men are going to change for them, but unless you’re willing to wait 63 years for an uncertain outcome, it shouldn’t.

This time, aged 77 years old, the participants rated themselves on the six personality traits, and also nominated a close friend or relative to do the same. Overall, there was not much overlap from the questionnaires taken 63 years earlier. “Correlations suggested no significant stability of any of the 6 characteristics or their underlying factor, dependability, over the 63-year interval,” wrote the researchers. “We hypothesized that we would find evidence of personality stability over an even longer period of 63 years, but our correlations did not support this hypothesis,” they later added.

This may give solace to women who want evidence that their men are going to change for them, but unless you’re willing to wait 63 years for an uncertain outcome, it shouldn’t. What this really does is provide evidence that people do grow slowly over time. I’m a lot more confident and resilient than I was at age 13. I’m less likely to take things personally, try to impress others, or hold onto broken relationships. I’m more likely to be aware of my flaws, own them, and apologize for them.

How have you changed for the better since you were a teenager? Your thoughts, below, are greatly appreciated.

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Comments:

  1. 1
    BTUQueen

    I have grown more patient and more tolerant.   Working and raising children has given me many opportunities to practice patience. <grin>

  2. 2
    GoWiththeFlow

    Bigest and best change has been in being able to accept things without having to fight it or know the deep “why.”  Goes along with not taking things as personally as i used too.

    1. 2.1
      Emily, the original

      GoWiththeFlow,

      “Goes along with not taking things as personally as i used too.”

      Also goes along with caring a hell of a lot less about what people think of you. Or feeling like you have to justify who you are or the choices you’ve made. I work with a lot of people who are very conservative and religious. I’m sure there have to be some who think that I must be gay because I am middle-aged and not married. A few years ago that would have bothered me. Now, I couldn’t care less.

  3. 3
    DeeGee

    An interesting study.
    I am now in my mid 50’s.
    When I examine myself, I feel like I have increased substantially in intellect and wholeness as a person.  But I do often feel that my emotional self hasn’t changed anywhere near as much.  I find myself often making similar emotional mistakes and poor emotional choices as what I did decades ago.
    I am divorced and I have had a couple of LTR’s with not so good outcomes. When it comes to dating now, I look for someone who has the traits that I want now, I don’t expect that they will choose or grow to have traits that I look for.  I don’t expect anyone to change for me.  Perhaps that means I’ll be single for the rest of my life.  🙂

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