Personality development in immigrant and non-immigrant adolescents: Disruption or maturation?

Sarah C Gillespie, Rebecca Shiner, Ann S. Masten, Frosso Motti-Stefanidi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study examined gender and immigrant status differences in stability and change in the Big Five traits in a sample of early adolescents in Greece from economically disadvantaged schools with a high immigrant composition (65% first- or second-generation immigrants). Youth in the sample (N = 1252, 46% female, ages 12–13 at time 1) self-reported Big Five traits annually for 3 years. Mean-level and rank-order stability were examined separately by gender and immigration history. Growth modeling of mean-level scores showed declines in all five personality traits for both genders between ages 12 and 14, followed by increases in conscientiousness for girls and boys, and increases in agreeableness and openness to experience for boys only. In sensitivity analyses, boys showed disruption at all levels of perceived economic stress, but only girls with high levels of perceived economic stress showed disruption. Trajectories were similar for immigrant and non-immigrant youth, suggesting that immigrant youth did not show greater mean-level disruption. However, immigrant youth reported lower means on all traits except emotional stability. Rank-order stability was moderately strong over 3 years and comparable across both genders and immigration histories. Results in this high-risk sample supported the disruption hypothesis and suggest that immigration experiences are associated with personality development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)53-66
Number of pages14
JournalEuropean Journal of Personality
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2024

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  • adolescence
  • disruption hypothesis
  • immigrant
  • maturation principle
  • personality development


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