Personality stability and its implications for clinical psychology

Paul T. Costa, Robert R. McCrae

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

107 Scopus citations


Over the past decade, a series of longitudinal studies have demonstrated that personality traits are stable in adulthood: There are no age-related shifts in mean levels, and individuals maintain very similar rank ordering on traits after intervals of up to 30 years. These findings should be of interest to clinicians because they point to important similarities between normal personality and personality disorders, facilitate research on the psychological processes that maintain both adaptive and maladaptive traits, serve as a reminder that current problems in functioning may be the expression of enduring personality patterns, and foster more realistic expectations about how much therapeutic change is possible.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)407-423
Number of pages17
JournalClinical Psychology Review
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1986

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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