Continuity and Change in Personality Traits From Adolescence to Midlife: A 25-Year Longitudinal Study Comparing Representative and Adjudicated Men


  • The Montreal Two-Sample Longitudinal Study (MTSLS) was supported over the years by research group grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), the Fonds pour la Formation des Chercheurs et l'Aide à la Recherche (FCAR), and the Conseil Québécois de la Recherche Sociale (CQRS) awarded to Marc Le Blanc. The first author was also supported by doctoral research grants from the SSHRC and the FCAR. This research is part of the doctoral dissertation of the first author. We thank the associate editor Rick Hoyle and three anonymous reviewers for helpful comments and suggestions on earlier drafts of this paper.

Address correspondence to Marc Le Blanc, Professeur titulaire, École de Psychoéducation, Casier postal 6128, succ. Centre-ville, Montréal (Québec), Canada, H3C 3J7,


Abstract In the first study, a hierarchical structure of personality traits was identified using data from a longitudinal study tracing two samples of men from adolescence to midlife (i.e., a representative sample of the general population and a sample of individuals adjudicated during their adolescence). The second study examined structural, rank-order, and mean-level continuity. Partial structural continuity was demonstrated through confirmatory factor analysis. Regarding rank-order continuity, the correlations were stronger as age increased, particularly for the adjudicated men. For mean-level continuity, the adjudicated men displayed higher scores from adolescence to midlife for nearly every personality trait related to Disinhibition and Negative Emotionality. Significant decreases were observed in these traits for both samples, supporting the hypothesis of a normative psychological maturation. Although both samples showed this maturation, the adjudicated men displayed a lower rate of change during adolescence and early adulthood. The two samples did not differ in Extraversion and this trait remained more stable, particularly for adjudicated men.