The Stability of Big-Five Personality Traits

Melbourne Institute Working Paper No. 21/11

Date: August 2011


Deborah Cobb-Clark
Stefanie Schurer


We use a large, nationally-representative sample of working-age adults to demonstrate that personality (as measured by the Big Five) is stable over a four-year period. Average personality changes are small and do not vary substantially across age groups. Intra-individual personality change is generally unrelated to experiencing adverse life events and is unlikely to be economically meaningful. Like other non-cognitive traits, personality can be modeled as a stable input into many economic decisions.

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