"Plaster or plasticity: are adult work experiences associated with personality change in women?"
by Roberts, B W (1997)
The present study tested whether work experiences were associated with personality change across two periods of adulthood (age 21 to 27 and 27 to 43) in a longitudinal sample of women (N = 81). Two competing theoretical perspectives were tested: the plaster theory, which claims that personality does not change after age 30, and the plasticity theory, which claims that personality can change at any time in adulthood. Evidence was found for both correlational consistency of personality in adulthood and for the socialization effect of work on personality change. Work experiences were not associated with personality change in young adulthood but were associated with changes between young adulthood and midlife. In the period from age 27 to age 43 women who worked more became more agentic, and women who were more successful in their work became both more agentic and more normadhering. This pattern of associations between personality change and work experience provided support for the plasticity model of personality change.
This study attempted to address why and when people change at different times in adulthood, that is, whether dispositional change is associated with work experience and if so, when over the course of young and middle adulthood the change occurs. Interestingly, work experiences were not associated with women's personality change in young adulthood, but were in early midlife. This pattem of associations between personality change and work experience contradicted the predictions of the plaster hypothesis and provided support for the plasticity model of adult development, which states that personality change can happen at any age in adulthood. (p.226)
KeywordsPersonality, Personality Theory, Personality Change, Metal Development, Plasticity, Mental Plasticity, Women
ThemesWomen and Work, Psychological Centrality of Work
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