Relationships Matter in Personality Development: Evidence From an 8-Year Longitudinal Study Across Young Adulthood


  • This research was supported by the Max-Planck-Institut für psychologische Forschung, the Deutsches Jugendinstitut, and by grants from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (NE 633/1-1,2; NE 633/2-1). Sampling and surveys were carried out by Infratest Sozialforschung. We thank Jens B. Asendorpf, Jaap Denissen, Iain Glen, Frieder R. Lang, and Cornelia Wrzus for most valuable comments on an earlier draft of this article.

concerning this article should be addressed to Franz J. Neyer, who is now at the University of Vechta, Department of Developmental Psychology, Burgstr. 18, D-49377 Vechta, Germany. E-mail:


ABSTRACT Personality-relationship transactions were investigated in a general population sample of young German adults with three assessments over 8 years. Four general findings were obtained. First, personality development was characterized by substantive individual differences in change. Second, bivariate latent growth models indicated that individual differences in personality change were substantially associated with change in peer and family relationships. Third, forming a partner relationship for the first time moderated the maturation of personality. This finding was replicated over two subsequent time intervals with independent subgroups. Fourth, higher neuroticism and higher sociability predicted which of the singles began a partner relationship during the next 8 years. The results confirm that individual differences in personality development predict and result from life transitions and relationship experiences.