Social relations and personality in young adulthood: Stability and change over a 14-week interval

Bradley E Sheese, Purdue University


The current study examined stability and change in personality and social relations in young adults (N = 507), aged 18 to 23, over a 14-week interval. Young adulthood is a transitional period in development where both social relations and personality are likely to change. Consequently, it is argued that young adulthood presents a unique opportunity for testing hypotheses about transactional relations between personality and social relations. Young adults attending a state university rated themselves on the Big-Five personality dimensions and completed measures of perceived social support and negative social interactions at the beginning and at the end of a school semester. Results show evidence of significant change in personality over the course of the semester. Mean-level increases were observed for both Conscientiousness and Openness, and significant rates of individual-level change were observed for Extraversion, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, and Emotional Stability. Results also provided evidence of significant group-level and individual-level change in social relations. In general, social relations appeared to improve for most students. Links between change in personality and change in social relations were also observed. Initial levels of Agreeableness predicted change in negative social interactions, and Extraversion showed a broad pattern of covariation in change with perceived social support. Results support the utility of examining personality development over short-intervals in young adulthood and show that change in personality is linked to change in social relations during this period of development.




Berndt, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Developmental psychology|Personality|Social psychology

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