Self-concept and the stability of personality: Cross-sectional comparisons of self-reports and ratings

Robert R. McCrae, Paul T. Costa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Examined the hypothesis that in normal individuals the self-concept is crystallized in early adulthood. If so, then self-report assessments would show great stability despite radical changes in personality or characteristic behavior. The use of spouse ratings is proposed as an alternative method that should be capable of demonstrating personality changes. Data on 139 male and 142 female 21-89 yr olds were collected. Correlations between age and spouse ratings of 18 personality traits showed only small associations, which may be attributable to sampling bias or cohort differences. When the difference between ratings and self-reports was examined, MANOVA showed no age effect for men or women. The agreement between self-reports and ratings at different ages was not lower among older Ss. Personality thus appears to be stable in groups and individuals whether or not the self-conccept is crystallized early in life. It is argued that the self-concepts of most adults are reasonably accurate representations of their pesonalities at all ages. (32 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1282-1292
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1982
Externally publishedYes


  • stability of self concept vs self assessed vs spouse rated personality traits, 21-89 yr olds

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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