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Abstract

Using data from 3 personality trait inventories and 7 samples, we show that trait items that have means near the scale midpoint and that vary more in their perceived desirability (e.g., items related to dominance, creativity, traditionalism, and organization) tend to be more stable over time, whereas items with means near the scale maximum or minimum and that vary less in their perceived desirability (e.g., items related to agreeableness, intellect, and reliability) tend to be less stable. Our findings indicate that items with means near the scale maximum or minimum have lower stabilities primarily due to having lower measurement dependability (i.e., short-term stabilities unlikely to reflect true change). However, items varying more in their desirability are more stable even after accounting for measurement dependability, consistent with the view that trait stability is facilitated in part by individuals actively working to develop in the direction they find desirable.