Self-perceptions of stability and change in personality at midlife: The unc alumni heart study

Jeffrey H. Herbst, Robert R. McCrae, Paul T. Costa, John R. Feaganes, Ilene C. Siegler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


The finding of personality stability in adulthood may be counterintuitive to people who perceive a great deal of change in their own personality. The purpose of this study is to determine whether self-reported perceived changes in personality are associated with actual changes based on a 6-to 9-year follow-up of 2,242 middle-aged male and female participants of the UNC Alumni Heart Study (UNCAHS). Respondents completed the Revised NEO Personality Inventory on two occasions and were asked to reflect back over a 6-year period and assess changes in their personality. The majority of respondents (n = 1,177; 52.5%) reported they had "stayed the same," while 863 (38.5%) reported they had "changed a little" and 202 (9%) reported they had "changed a good deal." Coefficients of personality profile agreement computed to evaluate global personality change for the three perceived change groups were essentially equivalent. Further, directional analyses of domain-specific changes in personality showed that perceived changes were weak predictors of residual gain scores. In an absolute sense, perceptions of stability or change were discordant in 8 of 15 (53%) comparisons. Self-perceptions of change are not an adequate substitute for objective assessments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)379-388
Number of pages10
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Longitudinal
  • Midlife
  • Perceptions
  • Personality
  • Stability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Applied Psychology


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