As an adolescent, you might have, at least once, been daydreaming of what you’ll possibly be in the future. Aside from an older body with saggy skin and possibly different fashion sense, you might’ve also wondered about what your aspirations, thought-process, and personality will be. With this, you might’ve expected that you’ll still be behaving the same way today as you go to old age.
However, the longest-running study of human personality challenges this assumption. This study is the first to test people’s personalities in adolescence and again in old age.
The researchers have retrieved data from a study conducted in 1950 in which a group of teachers filled out personality assessments for more than 1,200 14-year-old students, measuring six basic personality traits: self-confidence, conscientiousness, perseverance, desire to excel, originality and stability of moods.
They then tracked down these students in 2012, in which they were able to locate 635 of them. Moreover, only 174 have agreed to participate again and take a personality test similar to the one they had participated in 63 years earlier. Now 77 years old on average, these participants also brought a “guardian” to assist them while answering.
Results surprised the researchers- it showed that the then-and-now test results don’t have any overlaps. That is, compared to their younger selves, their personalities in older adulthood are barely recognizable. It was “as if the second tests had been given to different people,” the study’s authors from the University of Edinburgh in the United Kingdom noted.
“The longer the interval between two assessments of personality, the weaker the relationship between the two tends to be. Our results suggest that, when the interval is increased to as much as 63 years, there is hardly any relationship at all,” the researchers wrote in conclusion. “Personality changes only gradually throughout life, but by older age it may be quite different from personality in childhood.”
Guess it’s not just our cells that has been constantly (roughly every seven years) replaced. Perhaps we’ll never be really the person we used to be. So if you think you’re stuck to where you are right now, remember, that today next year could be completely different. What more 63 years from now?