Is Personality Fixed? Personality Changes as Much as ‘‘Variable’’ Economic Factors and More Strongly Predicts Changes to Life Satisfaction
Christopher J. Boyce, Alex M. Wood, & Nattavudh Powdthavee (2012)
Abstract Personality is the strongest and most consistent cross-sectional predictor of
high subjective well-being. Less predictive economic factors, such as higher income or
improved job status, are often the focus of applied subjective well-being research due to a
perception that they can change whereas personality cannot. As such there has been limited
investigation into personality change and how such changes might bring about higher wellbeing. In a longitudinal analysis of 8625 individuals we examine Big Five personality
measures at two time points to determine whether an individual’s personality changes and
also the extent to which such changes in personality can predict changes in life satisfaction.
We ﬁnd that personality changes at least as much as economic factors and relates much
more strongly to changes in life satisfaction. Our results therefore suggest that personality
can change and that such change is important and meaningful. Our ﬁndings may help inform
policy debate over how best to help individuals and nations improve their well-being.