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揭秘:人的个性会随着年龄增长而改变吗?

中国有句话叫:江山易改,本性难移。我们可能以为,人的个性是与生俱来的,比如天生内向或外向。但是科学家经过多年的研究发现,随着时间流逝,人的个性会发生改变,短期内察觉不到,但长期来看很明显。

 

揭秘:人的个性会随着年龄增长而改变吗? Photo by Rostyslav Savchyn on Unsplash

 

Between adolescence and adulthood, you go through a host of changes — jobs, regrettable haircuts and relationships that come and go. But what about who you are at your core? As you grow older, does your personality change?

从青少年到成年,你经历了许多改变——换工作、失败的发型和恋情变迁。但是你本质上是一个什么样的人呢?随着年龄增长,你的个性会改变吗?

Personality is the pattern of thoughts, feelings and behaviors unique to a person. People tend to think of personality as fixed. But according to psychologists, that's not how it works. "Personality is a developmental phenomenon. It's not just a static thing that you're stuck with and can't get over," said Brent Roberts, a psychologist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

个性是一个人特有的思维、感觉和行为模式。人们往往认为个性是固定不变的。但是心理学家表示并非如此。伊利诺伊大学厄巴纳-尚佩恩分校的心理学家布伦特·罗伯茨说:“个性是一个发展的现象。它不是一个一成不变、摆脱不了的静态事物。”

That's not to say that you're a different person each day you wake up. In the short term, change can be nearly imperceptible, Roberts told Live Science. Longitudinal studies, in which researchers survey the personalities of participants regularly over many years, suggest that our personality is actually stable on shorter time scales.

这不是说你每天早上醒来都是一个不同的人。罗伯茨告诉生命科学网站说,短期来看,改变几乎是察觉不到的。在延续多年的纵向研究中,研究人员对参与者的个性进行了定期调查。结果显示,实际上我们的个性在较短时间尺度内是稳定的。

In one study, published in 2000 in the journal Psychological Bulletin, researchers analyzed the results of 152 longitudinal studies on personality, which followed participants ranging in age from childhood to their early 70s. Each of these studies measured trends in the Big Five personality traits. This cluster of traits, which include extroversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, openness to experience, and neuroticism, are a mainstay of personality research. The researchers found that individuals' levels of each personality trait, relative to other participants, tended to stay consistent within each decade of life.

在一项2000年发表在《心理学公报》期刊上的研究中,研究人员分析了152项对个性的纵向研究,这些研究跟踪调查了从幼年到70岁出头各个年龄段的参与者。每项研究都测评了“大五人格”的倾向。“大五人格”包括外向性、亲和性、责任心、经验开放性和情绪稳定性,这些人格特质是个性研究的重要基础。研究人员发现,相对来说参与者的“大五人格”水平在每个十年内通常都是稳定的。

That pattern of consistency begins around age 3, and perhaps even earlier, said Brent Donnellan, professor and chair of psychology at Michigan State University. When psychologists study children, they don't measure personality traits in the same way they do for adults. Instead, they look at temperament — the intensity of a person's reactions to the world. We come into the world with unique temperaments, and research suggests that our temperaments as children — for example, whether we're easy going or prone to temper tantrums, eager or more reluctant to approach strangers — correspond to adult personality traits.

密歇根州立大学的心理学系主任布伦特·唐纳伦教授称,这种稳定模式大约在三岁开始形成,甚至可能更早。心理学家对儿童进行研究时,他们不会像对待成人一样测评人格,而是会观察性情,也就是一个人对世界作出反应的强烈程度。我们天生就有各自的性情,研究表明,我们儿时的性情和成人后的个性特质有关,比如我们是否随和或容易发脾气,愿不愿意接触陌生人。

Earlier temperament seems to affect later life experience. For example, one 1995 study published in the journal Child Development followed children from the age of 3 until the age of 18. The researchers found, for instance, that children who were shyer and more withdrawn tended to grow into unhappier teenagers.

早年的性情似乎会对以后的生活经历造成影响。举例而言,1995年发表在《儿童发育》期刊上的一项研究对儿童进行了跟踪调查,从3岁跟踪到18岁。研究人员发现,比较害羞和内向的孩子通常会长成不太快乐的青少年。

But those decades add up. Throughout all those years, our personality is still changing, but slowly, Roberts said. "It's something that's subtle," he added. You don't notice it on that five-to-10-year time scale, but in the long term, it becomes pronounced. In 1960, psychologists surveyed over 440,000 high school students. The students answered questions about everything from how they reacted to emotional situations to how efficiently they got work done. Fifty years later, researchers tracked down 1,952 of these former students and gave them the same survey. The results, published in 2018 in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, found that in their 60s, participants scored much higher than they had as teenagers on questions measuring calmness, self-confidence, leadership and social sensitivity.

但是一个又一个十年会对个性产生影响。罗伯茨称,我们的个性在这些年间仍然会改变,不过是缓慢地改变。他补充道:“这是微妙的变化。”五年到十年内你注意不到,但是长期来看,就很明显。1960年,心理学家对逾44万名高中生进行了调查。这些学生回答了各种问题,从对情绪状况的反应到完成工作的效率。五十年后,研究人员跟踪调查了1952名当年的这些学生,并对他们进行了同样的调查。这项2018年发表在《个性与社会心理学期刊》的研究结果发现,这些年逾六十的参与者在衡量冷静、自信、领导力和社会敏感度的问卷得分比他们青少年时得分高得多。

Again and again, longitudinal studies have found similar results. Personality tends to get "better" over time. Psychologists call it "the maturity principle." People become more extraverted, emotionally stable, agreeable and conscientious as they grow older. Over the long haul, these changes are often pronounced.

各项纵向研究一次又一次地得出了相似的结果。随着时间流逝,人们的个性通常会“变好”。心理学家将其称之为“成熟法则”。随着年龄增长,人们变得更外向,情绪更稳定,更随和,也更有责任心。长期来看,这些改变通常很明显。

Some individuals might change less than others, but in general, the maturity principle applies to everyone. That makes personality change even harder to recognize in ourselves — how your personality compares with that of your peers doesn't change as much as our overall change in personality, because everyone else is changing right along with you. "There's good evidence that the average self-control of a 30-year-old is higher than a 20-year-old," Donnellan said. "At the same time, people who are relatively self-controlled at 18 also tend to be relatively self-controlled at age 30."

一些人可能变得比其他人少,但总体来看,成熟法则适用于每个人。这使得我们的个性改变更难以被识别。你的个性相比同龄人发生的改变没有大家整体的个性改变大,因为每个人的个性都和你一起发生着改变。唐纳伦说:“充分证据表明,30岁的人平均自制力高于20岁的人。与此同时,18岁时自制力相对较强的人到了30岁也往往自制力相对较强。”

So why do we change so much? Evidence suggests it's not dramatic life events, such as marriage, the birth of a child or loss of a loved one. Some psychologists actually suggest these events reinforce your personality as you bring your characteristics with you to that particular situation, Donnellan said.

那么为什么我们会改变这么多?证据显示,我们的个性改变不是因为人生大事,比如结婚、孩子出生或失去所爱之人。唐纳伦称,一些心理学家指出实际上这些大事会强化你的个性,因为你会将自己的个性带入到那个特别的情境中。

Instead, changing expectations placed on us — as we adjust to university, the work force, starting a family — slowly wears us in, almost like a pair of shoes, Roberts said. "Over time you are asked in many contexts across life to do things a bit differently," he said. "There's not a user manual for how to act, but there's very clear implicit norms for how we should behave in these situations." So we adapt.

罗伯茨指出,在我们适应大学、职场和成家时,外界对我们期望值的改变在慢慢地打磨我们,就像一双鞋一样。他说:“随着时间过去,人生中的许多情境都会要求你用和以前不一样的方式去做事。没有用户手册来指导你如何行动,但是有非常清晰的不成文规范告诉你在这些情况下应该如何表现。”于是我们就改变自己去适应。

 

英文来源:生命科学网站

翻译&编辑:丹妮

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