Do People Know How Their Personality Has Changed? Correlates of Perceived and Actual Personality Change in Young Adulthood


concerning this article should be addressed to Richard W. Robins, Department of Psychology, University of California, Davis CA 95616-8686. E-mail: This project was supported by grants from the National Institute of Aging (AG022057-01) and the National Institute of Mental Health (MH-20006).


Abstract How much do we think our personality changes over time? How well do our perceptions of change correspond with actual personality change? Two hundred and ninety students completed measures of the Big Five personality traits when they first entered college. Four years later, they completed the same measures and rated the degree to which they believed they had changed on each dimension. Participants tended to view themselves as having changed substantially, and perceptions of change showed some correspondence with actual personality change. Perceived and actual change showed theoretically meaningful correlations with a host of variables related to different aspects of college achievement and adjustment.