Personality stability in late adulthood: A behavioral genetic analysis

Wendy Johnson, Matt Mc Gue, Robert Krueger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

88 Scopus citations


A sample of 833 twins from the Minnesota Twin Study of Adult Development and Aging completed the Multidimensional Personality Questionnaire (MPQ; Tellegen, 1982) twice, averaging 59.4 (sd = 9.7) years of age at first and 64.4 (sd = 10.2) years of age at second testing (average retest interval 5.0 years, sd = 2.36, range 1.0-10.4 years). Both means and standard deviations of scale scores were extremely stable from first to second testing. In addition, sample participants tended to retain their rank order on the scales (average r = .76 across scales). Bivariate biometric analyses showed that the genetic influences on most of the scale scores were almost perfectly correlated across the two waves (range .95 to 1.00). The nonshared environmental influences were also highly correlated across the two waves (range .53 to .73). Models specifying identical variance components at the two time points and fixing the genetic correlation to 1.00 provided improved fit. The results suggest that the high stability of personality in later adulthood has a strong genetic foundation, supplemented by stability of environmental effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)523-552
Number of pages30
JournalJournal of personality
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2005


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