In Brief: As a man (or woman) grows older...

In Brief

As a man (or woman) grows older...

Published: May, 2006

A meta-analysis of 92 studies on adult personality development finds a pattern common to both sexes: Changes occur mostly in the 20s and 30s.

The reviewers used the popular classification of personality traits based on the Five Factor dimensions: agreeableness (compassion, affection, altruism); conscientiousness (tendency to be restrained, principled, and strongly committed to goals); neuroticism (inclination to hostility, depression, anxiety, and impulsiveness, as opposed to emotional stability); openness to experience (degree of open-mindedness, curiosity, ability to adjust habits and thinking); and extraversion (tendency to be outgoing, energetic, and willing to explore new situations). Extraversion was divided into social dominance (assertiveness, leadership) and social vitality (gregariousness). When a study did not use the five-dimension formula, the reviewers devised equivalents on the basis of the study's results.

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