While relationship researchers were at the IARR conference in Chicago, personality psychologists gathered in Trieste, Italy for the 16th annual European Conference on Personality. I was a part of a paper session entitled “Social Processes in Personality Change” along with Kathrin Jonkmann and Beatrice Rammstedt. All of our talks involved relationships with romantic partners, and the myriad of ways in which they contribute to changes in personality.
Kathrin Jonkmann presented longitudinal research on personality change (specifically looking at the “Big Five” personality traits) among young adults who moved in with roommates or romantic partners. When people moved in with roommates, they became more “agreeable” (nicer, more trustworthy), more “open” (desiring new experiences), and less “conscientious” (responsible, careful). This might be why dorm rooms and shared apartments seem so messy! Things were a bit tidier for people who moved in with a romantic partner; that living arrangement made people more “conscientious” over time.
Beatrice Rammstedt tracked married couples over a period of more than five years and investigated personality resemblance in these couples, comparing those who stayed together versus those who separated during that time. Initially, all partners in this sample were generally similar to each other (congruent) on Agreeableness, Openness, and Conscientiousness. Couples who stayed married longer had more similarity in these traits than couples who did not stay married as long. However, couples did not become more similar over time, indicating that perhaps the couples who stay together are more similar to each other in the beginning rather than growing to be similar over time. On the other hand, couples who are more similar in Extraversion are more prone to separation. Finally, results from the study revealed that once a separation happens, ex-partners become less similar to each other in all of the Big Five traits (they literally “grow apart” in terms of their personalities).
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Dr. Yanna Weisberg – Science of Relationships articles
Yanna’s research focuses on how personality affects perceptions of and behaviors in relationships, and how these relationship qualities affect personality change. Additional interests include evolutionary theory, affiliation, trust, and happiness.