Subjective Age and Personality Development: A 10-Year Study



Personality theory and research typically focus on chronological age as a key indicator of personality development. This study examines whether the subjective experience of age is an alternative marker of the biomedical and psychosocial factors that contribute to individual differences in personality development. The present study uses data from the Midlife in the United States longitudinal survey (N = 3,617) to examine how subjective age is associated with stability and change in personality and the dynamic associations between subjective age and personality traits over a 10-year period. Regression analyses indicated that a younger subjective age at baseline was associated with increases in Openness, Conscientiousness, and Agreeableness; correlated changes were also found. The rank-order stability of Extraversion and Openness and overall profile consistency were higher among those with a younger subjective age at baseline and were also associated with the rate of subjective aging over time. The present study reveals that beyond chronological age, the age an individual feels is related to changes in characteristic ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving over time.