Young adulthood (ages 18–30 years) is a developmental period associated with a number of significant life changes and challenges. Interspersed with both biological and environmental catalysts, substantial personality continuity and change have been observed within this period in the life span. An understanding of such developments is best achieved by investigating how the constructs housed within personality’s three conceptual levels (McAdams 1995) manifest and unfold. Accordingly, in this entry we provide an overview of personality development in young adulthood by summarizing what is known about the stability and change of (1) personality traits, (2) characteristic adaptations, and (3) narrative identity.
- Narrative identity
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Tax calculation will be finalised at checkout
Purchases are for personal use onlyLearn about institutional subscriptions
Bauer, J. J., McAdams, D. P., & Sakaeda, A. R. (2005). Interpreting the good life: Growth memories in the lives of mature, happy people. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 88, 203–217. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-35220.127.116.11.
Bohn, A. (2010). Generational differences in cultural life scripts and life story memories of younger and older adults. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 24, 1324–1345. https://doi.org/10.1002/acp.1641.
Caspi, A., Roberts, B. W., & Shiner, R. L. (2005). Personality development: Stability and change. Annual Review of Psychology, 56, 453–484. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev.psych.55.090902.141913.
Dunlop, W. L. (2015). Contextualized personality, beyond traits. European Journal of Personality, 29, 310–325. https://doi.org/10.1002/per.1995.
Dunlop, W. L., Guo, J., & McAdams, D. P. (2016). The autobiographical author through time: Examining the degree of stability and change in redemptive and contaminated personal narratives. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 7, 428–436. https://doi.org/10.1177/1948550616644654.
Dunlop, W. L., Bannon, B. L., & McAdams, D. P. (2017). Studying the motivated agent through time: Personal goal development during the adult life span. Journal of Personality, 85, 207–219. https://doi.org/10.1111/jopy.12234.
Erikson, E. H. (1963). Youth: Change and challenge. Basic books. Garden City: Anchor.
Habermas, T., & Bluck, S. (2000). Getting a life: The emergence of the life story in adolescence. Psychological Bulletin, 126, 748–769. https://doi.org/10.1037/0033-2909.126.5.748.
John, O. P., Naumann, L. P., & Soto, C. J. (2008). Paradigm shift to the integrative big five trait taxonomy. In L. A. Pervin (Ed.), Handbook of personality theory and research. New York: Guilford.
Lee, K., & Ashton, M. C. (2004). Psychometric properties of the HEXACO personality inventory. Multivariate Behavioral Research, 39, 329–358. https://doi.org/10.1207/s15327906mbr3902_8.
Marcia, J. E. (1993). The status of the statuses: Research review. In J. Marcia, A. Waterman, D. Matteson, S. Archer, & J. Orlofsky (Eds.), Ego identity (pp. 22–41). New York: Springer.
McAdams, D. P. (1995). What do we know when we know a person? Journal of Personality, 63, 365–396. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-6494.1995.tb00500.x.
McAdams, D. P., & Olson, B. D. (2010). Personality development: Continuity and change over the life course. Annual Review of Psychology, 61, 517–542. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev.psych.093008.100507.
McAdams, D. P., Bauer, J. J., Sakaeda, A. R., Anyidoho, N. A., Machado, M. A., Magrino Failla, K. W., White, & Pals, J. L. (2006). Continuity and change in the life story: A longitudinal study of autobiographical memories in emerging adulthood. Journal of Personality, 74, 1371–1400. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-6494.2006.00412.x.
Milfont, T. L., Milojev, P., & Sibley, C. G. (2016). Values stability and change in adulthood: A 3-year longitudinal study of rank-order stability and mean-level differences. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 42, 572–588. https://doi.org/10.1177/0146167216639245.
Roberts, B. W., & Mroczek, D. (2008). Personality trait change in adulthood. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 17, 31–35. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8721.2008.00543.x.
Roberts, B. W., & Robins, R. W. (2000). Broad dispositions, broad aspirations: The intersection of personality traits and major life goals. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 26, 1284–1296. https://doi.org/10.1177/0146167200262009.
Roberts, B. W., O’donnell, M., & Robins, R. W. (2004). Goal and personality trait development in emerging adulthood. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 87, 541–550. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-3518.104.22.1681.
Roberts, B. W., Walton, K. E., & Viechtbauer, W. (2006). Patterns of mean-level change in personality traits across the life course: A meta-analysis of longitudinal studies. Psychological Bulletin, 132, 1–25. https://doi.org/10.1037/0033-2909.132.1.1.
Robins, R. W., Fraley, R. C., Roberts, B. W., & Trzesniewski, K. H. (2001). A longitudinal study of personality change in young adulthood. Journal of Personality, 69, 617–640. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-6494.694157.
Schwartz, S. H. (1992). Universals in the content and structure of values: Theoretical advances and empirical tests in 20 countries. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, 25, 1–65. Academic. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0065-2601(08)60281-6.
Sheldon, K. M., & Elliot, A. J. (2000). Personal goals in social roles: Divergences and convergences across roles and levels of analysis. Journal of Personality, 68, 51–84. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-6494.00091.
Wiggins, J. S. (1979). A psychological taxonomy of trait-descriptive terms: The interpersonal domain. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 37, 395–412. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-3522.214.171.1245.
Editors and Affiliations
Section Editor information
© 2020 Springer Nature Switzerland AG
About this entry
Cite this entry
Wilkinson, D.E., Dunlop, W.L. (2020). Personality Development Young Adulthood. In: Zeigler-Hill, V., Shackelford, T.K. (eds) Encyclopedia of Personality and Individual Differences. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-24612-3_1879
Publisher Name: Springer, Cham
Print ISBN: 978-3-319-24610-9
Online ISBN: 978-3-319-24612-3