NAVIGATION- Dr. Charles R. Davenport; Licensed Psychologist

Can people change or is personality set?

personality change possible
A recent study found  that personality can change more than we once thought.  It was believed that  once personality  develops it is generally set and only able to change slightly over a significant period of time. A new study finds, that with therapy or counseling, with a professional,  personality  is able to change more rapidly and  significantly  than we once believed.

This study looked at over 200 published research papers. These papers all assessed personality traits as an outcome  of different kinds  of therapy or counseling. This review was published  in the Journal  psychological bulletin on January 5  and offers powerful suggestions that personality is not a static  as we once  expected.

This research does not  mean that we are rapidly able to change personality characteristics. In fact who we are does not tend to change in therapy  but we are able to influence  our reactions and awareness  to our own thoughts and feelings as well as input from others. When working with couples, Dr. Davenport has frequently seen a spouse wanting to change the other  tomorrow or in coming weeks. Unfortunately,  this is not likely realistic. However, focusing on  one aspect of who we are  and looking at it for many facets does have  opportunity change over time which this research supports. With many human behaviors slow and steady change is more easily  maintained than those shifts that come  rapidly.

There is evidence that people can change later in life  which suggests that enduring personality traits  may be able  to be changed deliberately.  This is in contrast  to previous research  on “big five” personality traits neuroticism, agreeableness, extroversion, and contentiousness which were indicated to be predictive of life success. Although these characteristics are likely adaptive  they may not illustrate  the entire picture. There is some research that indicates  an increase in emotional stability and  contentiousness during young adulthood and midlife.  In addition, openness to new experience tends to increase  during teenage years declining in old age.  This suggests that although some characteristics  may tend to pervade throughout life  there is also a continual shift  as we become more open  to new experience and potential change.

In summary, a new study supports that we’re able to make significant change  in aspects  of our personality  with continued therapy or counseling  with a trained professional.  Please contact  Charles R Davenport PsyD LLC  if you would like  to discuss the counseling or therapy services  this practice can offer you  or a loved one.

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