The emergence of sex differences in personality traits in early adolescence: A cross-sectional, cross-cultural study

Marleen De Bolle, Filip De Fruyt, Robert R. McCrae, Corinna E. Löckenhoff, Paul T. Costa, Maria E. Aguilar-Vafaie, Chang Kyu Ahn, Hyun Nie Ahn, Lidia Alcalay, Franco Simonetti, Jüri Allik, Tatyana V. Avdeyeva, Denis Bratko, Marina Brunner-Sciarra, Thomas R. Cain, Wayne Chan, Niyada Chittcharat, Vitanya Vanno, Jarret T. Crawford, Ryan FehrEmília Ficková, Michele J. Gelfand, Sylvie Graf, Martina Hřebíčková, Sami Gülgöz, Lee Jussim, Waldemar Klinkosz, Andrzej Sekowski, Goran Knežević, Danka Purić, Nora Leibovich De Figueroa, Vanina Schmidt, Margarida P. Lima, Thomas A. Martin, Iris Marušić, Khairul Anwar Mastor, Katsuharu Nakazato, Florence Nansubuga, Jose Porrata, Anu Realo, Norma Reátegui, Jean Pierre Rolland, Jane Shakespeare-Finch, Yoshiko Shimonaka, Jerzy Siuta, Barbara Szmigielska, Lei Wang, Michelle Yik, Antonio Terracciano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations


Although large international studies have found consistent patterns of sex differences in personality traits among adults (i.e., women scoring higher on most facets), less is known about cross-cultural sex differences in adolescent personality and the role of culture and age in shaping them. The present study examines the NEO Personality Inventory-3 (McCrae, Costa, & Martin, 2005) informant ratings of adolescents from 23 cultures (N = 4,850), and investigates culture and age as sources of variability in sex differences of adolescents' personality. The effect for Neuroticism (with females scoring higher than males) begins to take on its adult form around age 14. Girls score higher on Openness to Experience and Conscientiousness at all ages between 12 and 17 years. A more complex pattern emerges for Extraversion and Agreeableness, although by age 17, sex differences for these traits are highly similar to those observed in adulthood. Cross-sectional data suggest that (a) with advancing age, sex differences found in adolescents increasingly converge toward adult patterns with respect to both direction and magnitude; (b) girls display sex-typed personality traits at an earlier age than boys; and (c) the emergence of sex differences was similar across cultures. Practical implications of the present findings are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)171-185
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Adolescence
  • Cross-cultural
  • Personality
  • Sex differences

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


Dive into the research topics of 'The emergence of sex differences in personality traits in early adolescence: A cross-sectional, cross-cultural study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this