Stereotypes of age differences in personality traits: Universal and accurate?

Wayne Chan, Robert R. McCrae, Filip De Fruyt, Lee Jussim, Corinna E. Löckenhoff, Marleen De Bolle, Paul T. Costa, Angelina R. Sutin, Anu Realo, Jüri Allik, Katsuharu Nakazato, Yoshiko Shimonaka, Martina Hřebíčková, Sylvie Graf, Michelle Yik, Marina Brunner-Sciarra, Nora Leibovich de Figueora, Vanina Schmidt, Chang kyu Ahn, Hyun nie AhnMaria E. Aguilar-Vafaie, Jerzy Siuta, Barbara Szmigielska, Thomas R. Cain, Jarret T. Crawford, Khairul Anwar Mastor, Jean Pierre Rolland, Florence Nansubuga, Daniel R. Miramontez, Veronica Benet-Martínez, Jérôme Rossier, Denis Bratko, Iris Marušić, Jamin Halberstadt, Mami Yamaguchi, Goran Knežević, Thomas A. Martin, Mirona Gheorghiu, Peter B. Smith, Claudio Barbaranelli, Lei Wang, Jane Shakespeare-Finch, Margarida P. Lima, Waldemar Klinkosz, Andrzej Sekowski, Lidia Alcalay, Franco Simonetti, Tatyana V. Avdeyeva, V. S. Pramila, Antonio Terracciano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


Age trajectories for personality traits are known to be similar across cultures. To address whether stereotypes of age groups reflect these age-related changes in personality, we asked participants in 26 countries (N = 3,323) to rate typical adolescents, adults, and old persons in their own country. Raters across nations tended to share similar beliefs about different age groups; adolescents were seen as impulsive, rebellious, undisciplined, preferring excitement and novelty, whereas old people were consistently considered lower on impulsivity, activity, antagonism, and Openness. These consensual age group stereotypes correlated strongly with published age differences on the five major dimensions of personality and most of 30 specific traits, using as criteria of accuracy both self-reports and observer ratings, different survey methodologies, and data from up to 50 nations. However, personal stereotypes were considerably less accurate, and consensual stereotypes tended to exaggerate differences across age groups.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1050-1066
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Aging
  • Cross-cultural
  • Five factor model
  • Personality perception
  • Stereotypes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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