Our Personality Is Fully Developed By the Age of 7

New study looks at the behavior of children

  By first grade, an individual's main personality traits are already there
Many people know that a person's character and personality is largely established by the time they are very young. The traits that will define that individual throughout his or her life can be clearly identified when he or she is as little as 7 years old. In a new investigation, scientists show that, by the time they start going to school, children already exhibit the personality traits that will remain with them throughout their lives. This was clearly established in a new paper, written by experts at the University of California in Riverside (UCR), LiveScience reports.

“We remain recognizably the same person. This speaks to the importance of understanding personality because it does follow us wherever we go across time and contexts,” says UCR PhD candidate Christopher Nave, who was also the author of the new investigation. The scientist used information on about 2,400 ethnically diverse schoolchildren, which he collected from the conclusions of a study conducted in the 1960. Full details of the work will be published in an upcoming issue of the esteemed medical journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.

All the children in the old study were in grades 1 through 6, the expert says. The UCR research group looked at personality ratings that teachers had given to 144 of the test subjects. Now, 40 years after the original study, these individuals were tracked down and then interviewed. The experts looked for modifications in four major personality traits, and namely verbal fluency, adaptability to new situations, self-humbling behavior, and impulsiveness.

The researchers learned that children who had proven to be talkative from an early age were very likely to become highly intelligent individuals later on in life. They were capable of speaking fluently, and exhibited a tendency to try and control situations. Conversely, first graders who scored lower in verbal fluency while in school tended to seek more advice from others, and general trigger awkward interpersonal situations.

“Life events still influence our behaviors, yet we must acknowledge the power of personality in understanding future behavior as well.” Additional studies should “help us understand how personality is related to behavior as well as examine the extent to which we may be able to change our personality,” the team leader concludes.

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By    6 Aug 2010, 14:08 GMT