Personality Traits in Old Age: Measurement and Rank-Order Stability and Some Mean-Level Change

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Lothian Birth Cohorts, 1936 and 1921 were used to study the longitudinal comparability of Five-Factor Model (McCrae & John, 1992) personality traits from ages 69 to 72 years and from ages 81 to 87 years, and cross-cohort comparability between ages 69 and 81 years. Personality was measured using the 50-item International Personality Item Pool (Goldberg, 1999). Satisfactory measurement invariance was established across time and cohorts. High rank-order stability was observed in both cohorts. Almost no mean-level change was observed in the younger cohort, whereas Extraversion, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, and Intellect declined significantly in the older cohort. The older cohort scored higher on Agreeableness and Conscientiousness. In these cohorts, individual differences in personality traits continued to be stable even in very old age, mean-level changes accelerated.

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