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Life Events and Personality Change: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis


Bühler, Janina Larissa; Orth, Ulrich; Bleidorn, Wiebke; Weber, Elisa; Kretzschmar, André; Scheling, Louisa; Hopwood, Christopher J (2024). Life Events and Personality Change: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. European Journal of Personality, 38(3):544-568.

Abstract

While there is some evidence for changes in personality traits, life satisfaction, and self-esteem as a function of life events, effects have been small and inconsistent across studies. In this preregistered meta-analysis, we summarize the available evidence on personality change in response to life events using data from 44 studies, including 89 samples with a total of 121,187 participants. Results supported reliable and specific albeit relatively small effects of life events on personality change. Effects were larger and more consistent in the work than in the love domain, with graduation, the first job, a new relationship, marriage, and divorce showing the strongest effects on change in personality variables. Estimates were largely comparable across samples with and without comparison groups. Finally, moderator analyses indicated significant effects of time lag on the links between life events in the love domain and personality change but no effects of other examined variables. We discuss these results in the context of a field-wide turn towards designs that go beyond the study of single life events to examine the mechanisms of personality change using more sophisticated and sensitive designs.

Abstract

While there is some evidence for changes in personality traits, life satisfaction, and self-esteem as a function of life events, effects have been small and inconsistent across studies. In this preregistered meta-analysis, we summarize the available evidence on personality change in response to life events using data from 44 studies, including 89 samples with a total of 121,187 participants. Results supported reliable and specific albeit relatively small effects of life events on personality change. Effects were larger and more consistent in the work than in the love domain, with graduation, the first job, a new relationship, marriage, and divorce showing the strongest effects on change in personality variables. Estimates were largely comparable across samples with and without comparison groups. Finally, moderator analyses indicated significant effects of time lag on the links between life events in the love domain and personality change but no effects of other examined variables. We discuss these results in the context of a field-wide turn towards designs that go beyond the study of single life events to examine the mechanisms of personality change using more sophisticated and sensitive designs.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Uncontrolled Keywords:personality change, life events, meta-analysis, longitudinal, big five
Language:English
Date:1 May 2024
Deposited On:10 Oct 2023 08:40
Last Modified:14 Apr 2024 01:03
Publisher:Sage Publications
ISSN:0890-2070
OA Status:Green
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1177/08902070231190219
  • Content: Published Version
  • Language: English
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)