Can a person’s personality change? (3 insights)

This blog post aims to answer the question, “Can a person’s personality change?” and explore the various dimensions of personality that will help understand the answer. 

Can a person’s personality change?

Yes, a person’s personality can change. The following are 3 insights into how a person’s personality can change –

  • Personality changes gradually over time.
  • Sudden personality change.
  • 4 tips for changing personality.

What are these 3 insights into how a person’s personality can change?

Personality changes gradually over time.

Personality characteristics are broad categories of individual variations that relate to how we interact with our social environments. They support our ability to think, behave, and feel consistently in a variety of contexts and across time.

Early childhood temperament variations, which are partially genetically driven and influence exposure to social situations, are assumed to be the source of adult personality characteristics. There are five personality dimensions in all.

The five factors are: “extraversion or positive emotionality (incorporating traits such as sociability, energy, shyness and dominance/subordination); neuroticism or negative emotionality (including lower‐order traits such as proneness to anxiety, irritability, sadness, insecurity and guilt); conscientiousness (factors such as reliability, carefulness, persistence and self‐control); agreeableness (cooperativeness, consideration, generosity, kindness and politeness); and openness to experience (imaginativeness, insight and aesthetic sensitivity)”. 

Individuals differ in all of these characteristics, therefore each individual is regarded to have a unique set of traits. Personality factors influence the quality of social and familial connections, marital status and satisfaction, career choices, political opinions, and crime with moderate consistency.

Your personality might evolve during the course of your life. It’s natural to have mood swings from time to time. Unusual personality changes, on the other hand, might be an indication of a physical or mental problem.

A personality shift can manifest itself in a number of ways –

  • A personality shift is indicated by behaviour that differs from how you would normally behave in the same situation.
  • A person’s mood, aggression, or euphoria are abnormally moody, aggressive, or euphoric in comparison to their regular behaviour in comparable conditions, indicating a personality shift.

Examples of personality change –

  • Being unconcerned in conditions that would typically induce anxiety or worry.
  • Being glad when hearing bad news.

Sudden personality change.

While a gradual shift in personality isn’t uncommon, an accident or sickness might create an abrupt transformation.

A generally joyful individual might become depressed as a result of grief, unpleasant news, or disappointment. After hearing the sad news, a person’s mood might be affected for weeks or months.

Some people have had bizarre or aberrant behaviour for years, which might be caused by disease or injury. After being exposed to a stressful scenario or seeing an unpleasant incident, a person’s demeanour may shift.

These behavioural changes may be caused by a mental health condition, such as –

Anxiety.

When a person feels apprehensive or unpleasant about a situation, they are said to be anxious. It’s natural to feel anxious from time to time, but when it happens without warning, it might be an indication of generalised anxiety disorder.

Panic attacks.

Panic episodes are intense bouts of dread. Fear might appear to be illogical at times. A person suffering a panic attack while seeing an elevator or speaking in public is an example of such a circumstance.

Post-traumatic stress disorder.

This mental health disease, also known as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), is characterised by acute terror, flashbacks, and, in some cases, hallucinations. Traumatic memories, such as a terrorist attack or a vehicle accident, might cause PTSD.

Bipolar disorder.

Bipolar disorder is characterised by mood swings that are intense. Mood swings may range from exhilaration to severe sadness, and they might modify how a person reacts to specific encounters or events, depending on their mood.

Schizophrenia.

Schizophrenia makes it difficult to think clearly, interpret circumstances efficiently, behave appropriately in social situations, and discern what is genuine from what isn’t.

Strange or odd behaviour might be caused by medical problems that cause hormone levels to fluctuate. These conditions include –

  • menopause
  • premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
  • andropause (male menopause)
  • hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism (an overactive or underactive thyroid gland, respectively)

Medical emergencies that can cause strange or unusual behaviour include-

  • heart attack
  • stroke
  • dehydration
  • malnutrition

While personality qualities are usually stable over time, they may and do change during the course of a person’s life. Furthermore, most of these changes are for the better. 

Many studies, including some of my own, suggest that as people become older, they grow more pleasant, responsible, and emotionally robust. However, rather than days or weeks, these changes likely to occur across years or decades. 

Changes in personality that occur suddenly and dramatically are uncommon. Personality traits have a role in shaping people’s lives because of their impact on behaviour and consistency through time. 

The Big Five personality traits, when measured with scientifically constructed and validated personality tests, predict a long list of important life outcomes, including academic and work performance, relationships with family, friends, and romantic partners, life satisfaction and emotional well-being, physical health and longevity, and many others. 

In fact, none of these outcomes is solely dictated by a person’s personality; they are all impacted by the circumstances of their lives. However, personality traits definitely have an impact on people’s lives and can help explain why two persons in comparable situations typically have different results.

The relevance of social roles is highlighted in research by Brent Roberts, Joshua Jackson, Wiebke Bleidorn, and others. 

When we invest in a position that requires specific behaviours, such as a job that requires us to be hardworking and responsible, such behaviours tend to get incorporated into our personality over time.

According to 2015 research by Nathan Hudson and Chris Fraley, some people may be able to change their personalities on purpose via prolonged personal effort and precise goal-setting. 

Positive personality changes appear to increase when people are living important and rewarding lives, according to research.

4 tips for changing personality.

You may realise that there are characteristics of your personality that you wish you could change at various times during your life. You may even make objectives and strive toward eliminating those possibly harmful characteristics.

Many experts believe that changing broad qualities in a serious and lasting way may be quite challenging. Although changing from an introvert to an extrovert might be tough (if not impossible), experts say there are things you can do to make significant and permanent changes to your personality.

Learning New Habits.

People with desirable personality qualities (such as compassion and honesty) have established habitual reactions that have stuck, according to psychologists. Because habit can be acquired, altering your habitual reactions over time is one approach to modifying your personality.

Developing a new habit or breaking an old one is never simple, and it requires time and dedication. These new habits of behaviour will soon become second nature with enough repetition.

Challenging Your Self-Beliefs.

You will not change if you feel you cannot change. If you want to be more outgoing but feel that your introversion is a fixed, permanent, and unchangeable quality, you’ll never attempt. 

You are more likely to make an attempt to become more sociable if you feel your personal characteristics can be changed.

Focusing on Your Efforts.

Dweck’s research has consistently demonstrated the importance of recognising effort rather than skill. Replace statements like “I’m so brilliant” or “I’m so talented” with “I worked extremely hard” or “I came up with a decent solution to that problem.”

You could find it simpler to experience actual change and progress if you adopt a growth mentality rather than a fixed attitude.

Acting the Part.

Christopher Peterson, a positive psychologist, knew early on that his introverted personality may be damaging to his academic career. 

To combat this, he began behaving extroverted in circumstances when it was appropriate, such as when giving a lecture to a large group of students or presenting a presentation at a conference.

These habits will eventually become second nature. While he claimed to be an introvert, he has learnt how to turn outgoing when necessary.

Conclusion – 

This blog post aimed to answer the question, “Can a person’s personality change? and reviewed the dimensions of personality to help determine if a person’s personality can change. Please feel free to reach out to us with any questions or comments you may have.

References –

Kahn, A. Everything You Want to Know About Personality Change. (2019, December 4).  Retrieved from  https://www.healthline.com/health/behavior-unusual-or-strange#:~:text=Your%20personality%20can%20gradually%20change,in%20a%20variety%20of%20ways.

Nikos-Rose, K. Can you change your personality? (2020, January 9). Retrieved from  https://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/news/can-you-change-your-personality

Cherry, K. Can You Change Your Personality? (2021, February 22). Retrieved from  https://www.verywellmind.com/can-you-change-your-personality-2795428

Personality change. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. (2022, March 10). Retrieved from  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Personality_changes

Kersting, K. Personality changes for the better with age. American Psychological Association. (2003, July/August ). Retrieved from  https://www.apa.org/monitor/julaug03/personality

Suttie, J. Can Your Personality Change Over Your Lifetime? (2018, October 15). Retrieved from  https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/can_your_personality_change_over_your_lifetime

DiSalvo, D. Can Personality Change Or Does It Stay The Same For Life? A New Study Suggests It’s A Little Of Both. (2018, August 20). Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/daviddisalvo/2018/08/20/can-personality-change-or-does-it-stay-the-same-for-life-a-new-study-says-its-a-little-of-both/?sh=67350dab79ca

Soto, C. Personality Can Change Over A Lifetime, And Usually For The Better. (2016, June 30). Retrieved from  https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2016/06/30/484053435/personality-can-change-over-a-lifetime-and-usually-for-the-better

Personality Change. Psychology Today. (n.d.). Retrieved from  https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/personality-change

Conditions That Can Change Your Personality. WebMD. (2021, November 18). Retrieved from  https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/ss/slideshow-conditions-change-personality

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