Personality Over Time

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Yesterday in an e-mail conversation with Jean, my mother-in-law, she asked "What do you think is the best age to be?" I am happy to be whatever age I am, as each age offers different positives and negatives aspects.

Now this made me think. I know I have changed over time. I am more easy-going than I was when I was 20, for example. Wouldn't a radar or spiderweb graph plotting personality traits over time be interesting?

Big5overTime.png

It is interesting. For the foundation of my chart, I used the Big Five personality traits:

  • Openness - appreciation for art, emotion, adventure, unusual ideas, imagination, curiosity, and variety of experience.
  • Conscientiousness - a tendency to show self-discipline, act dutifully, and aim for achievement; planned rather than spontaneous behaviour.
  • Extraversion - energy, positive emotions, surgency, and the tendency to seek stimulation and the company of others.
  • Agreeableness - a tendency to be compassionate and cooperative rather than suspicious and antagonistic towards others.
  • Neuroticism - a tendency to experience unpleasant emotions easily, such as anger, anxiety, depression, or vulnerability; sometimes called emotional instability.

This definitely has faults: the Big Five is not comprehensive; the rating scale is not entirely clear - should 0 be neutral or an extreme opposite? No doubt I am overlooking a lot of other problems but is is interesting.

In addition to plotting the chart, I summed totals by age and category. I think the category totals sort of tell what your overall strengths are.

I want the totals by age to indicate the size of your personality - how much you have bloomed or withered over time - but I think that the Big Five are not the best traits to show this. I need to dig deeper to find better ones.

If you'd like to play with this, here is the Excel spreadsheet to download. If you try it, may I see your results? I won't publish them here, but they would help me validate my ideas. I would be happy to have your comments on how this might be reworked to make it more accurate or revealing, too.

3 Comments

A very interesting exercise. I've posted my version of your chart over at my blog, and a variation on it as well. The comments system won't let me post a direct link here but you can click through to it by clicking my name I believe. I'm curious to see how you expand on the idea in the future.

Hello,
I need to make a reference to the figure above. If it is the case, Could you please post the site or bib from which it came?
Sorry not to put my email (to prevent spam in my accoount)
Thank you.
Joao

Hi, Joao. The figure above and idea of charting personality over time are of my own devising, so you can cite Kristen McQuillin (that's me) and this website address.

I'm astounded that my off-the-cuff concept might be cited as something worthwhile. Hope you'll tell us the topic or title and the publication (or school?) that you are writing for. Whatever it is, I hope it goes well for you.

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  • Kristen: Hi, Joao. The figure above and idea of charting personality read more
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  • Cully: A very interesting exercise. I've posted my version of your read more

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