Stability and Change in Personality Traits From Late Adolescence to Early Adulthood: A Longitudinal Twin Study


  • The Minnesota Twin Family Study is supported in part by U.S. Public Health Service Grants AA00175, AA09367, DA05147, and MH65137. Daniel M. Blonigen is supported by the NIMH training grant MH17069.

concerning this article should be addressed to Daniel M. Blonigen, Department of Psychology, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities Campus, Elliott Hall, 75 East River Road, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 55455-0344. E-mail:


ABSTRACT We conducted a longitudinal-biometric study examining stability and change in personality from ages 17 to 24 in a community sample of male and female twins. Using Tellegen's (in press) Multidimensional Personality Questionnaire (MPQ), facets of Negative Emotionality (NEM) declined substantially at the mean and individual levels, whereas facets of Constraint (CON) increased over time. Furthermore, individuals in late adolescence who were lowest on NEM and highest on CON remained the most stable over time, whereas those exhibiting the inverse profile (higher NEM, lower CON) changed the most in a direction towards growth and maturity. Analyses of gender differences yielded greater mean-level increases over time for women as compared to men on facets of CON and greater mean-level increases for men than women on facets of Agentic Positive Emotionality (PEM). Biometric analyses revealed rank-order stability in personality to be largely genetic, with rank-order change mediated by both the nonshared environment (and error) as well as genes. Findings correspond with prior evidence of a normative trend toward growth and maturity in personality during emerging adulthood.