Personality Dispositions Over Time: Stability, Coherence, and Change
January 26 2012
Personality Development: the continuities, consistencies, and stabilities in people
3 Important Forms of Stability:
1. Rank Order Stability: is the maintenance of individual position within a
2. Mean Level Stability: population or majority in one favour i.e. population
Mean Level Change: population favour changes together over time.
3. Personality Coherence: maintaining rank order in relation to other
individuals but changing the manifestations of the trait. i.e. At age 8 boy
manifests his dominance by showing toughness while play fighting, calling
weaker kids sissies etc. While at age 20 the same kid shows his dominance
persuading others to accept his political views, asking girl out on date etc.
- The changes are typically internal to the person, not merely changes in the
external surroundings such as walking into another room.
- The changes are relatively enduring over time, rather than being merely
Analysis of Personality: Three Levels
Population Level: deals with changes and constancies that apply more or less to
everyone. i.e. everyone in the population tends to increase in sexual motivation at
Group Differences Level: Gender differences, as well as cultural and ethnic.
Individual Difference Level: i.e. can we predict which individuals, based on their
personalities, will go through a midlife crisis. Stability of Personality Over Lifespan
1. Stability of Temperament During Infancy
Temperament: the individual differences that emerge very early in life, are likely to
have a heritable basis and are often involved with emotionality or arousability.
- Stable & early individual differences
- More stability over shorter intervals
- Stability increases with maturity
2. Stability During Childhood
Longitudinal Studies: examinations of the same groups of individuals over time
Block & Block Longitudinal Study:
- Assessed activity level via actometer & teacher ratings.
- Actometer: a recording device attached to the wrists of the children during
several play periods.
- Results from both measures were positively correlated (validity)
- Results from same measure but at different times correlated (stability)
- Activity was relatively stable with more stability over shorter intervals
With regards to aggression it was found: More stability in smaller vs. larger time
Bullying and Problems later in life
Brody, 1996; Olweus, 1978, 1979
- Different raters identified s