For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

"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.


Personality, Personality Theory, Personality Change, Metal Development, Plasticity, Mental Plasticity, Women


Women and Work, Psychological Centrality of Work

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