The Big Five: Changes over the Lifespan
Tuesday, February 4, 2014
Two Types of Change or Continuity
• Absolute continuity: 132, 515 people cross cultures given the Big 5 test—trend
was that people seemed to decrease with their openness and neuroticism as they
o Does one’s raw score on Big 5 change?
o Ex: If I score 33 on Neuroticism today, will I score a 33 in 2024?
Differential Continuity or relative continuity)
• Does one’s relative ranking compared to peers change?
o People tend to maintain the same relatively high or low ranking compared
to peers their same age
o Ex: Relatively high open people remain relatively high
o Costa and McCrae looked at longitudinal data up to 30 years—measure 6
years apart on all traits averaged r=.80, whereas at 20 years apart r=.60.
• Ex: If I am in the 60 percentile on Neuroticism today, compared to my peers,
will I still be in the 60 percentile compared to the same peers in 10 years from
now?—yes, you will be.
• Differential contiuity is not stable over the life span
Can be assessed in one of two ways:
• Longitudinal studies (tracking same people over time): seems to confirm the
o Not just caused by Cohort Effects
o Definition: a rival explanation focused on differences being due to
historical time, not age
o Ex: Do people become more prejudice as they age?
In a 10 year lon