Impact of Distinct Traits in Life EventJanuary 27, 2023
Bleidorn, Hopwood, & Lucas (2016) reviewed longitudinal studies that examined the impact of distinct life events on changes in the Big Five personality traits with a particular focus on the broad dimension of love (to include romantic relationships, marriage, and, divorce).
Their results revealed that those in romantic relationships experience a decrease roticism and an increase in extraversion and, in some cases, conscientiousness.
Women who went through a divorce showed modest increases in extraversion and openness to experience relative to those women who got married; and divorced men showed increases in facets of neuroticism and decreases in facets of conscientiousness, whereas married men decreased in neuroticism and in some studies, extraversion.
Across the life of marriage, personality change can also differ between husbands and wives. Evidence suggests a decline in agreeableness for husbands and wives, a decline in extraversion for husbands, a decline in openness and neuroticism for wives (for those who had not cohabited before marriage), and an increase in conscientiousness for husbands (Lavner et al., 2018).
The experience of having a relationship has also been shown to promote changes in personality traits. Robins et al. (2002) tested whether being in a good (vs. bad) relationship during the early 20s had a positive (vs. negative) impact on personality development.
Individuals who were in maladaptive relationships during their early 20s tended to become more hostile, irritable, and alienated. People in dissatisfying relationships are slightly more neurotic and less conscientious, expressive, and agreeable than people in satisfied relationships (Grattis, et. al, 2004).
Lemay and Dobush (2015) looked specifically at perceived relationship commitment and how personality traits may fluctuate depending on their position within a relationship (more or less committed than their partner).
The results showed that partners who perceived that they were lesscommitted than their partners were more likely to engage in hostile behavior if they had negative interpersonal traits or negative emotion, but they were less likely to engage in hostile behavior if they instead had positive interpersonal dispositions or emotions.
These results suggest that being less dependent than the partner does not have a specific effect on behavior but instead allows for the expression of personality or emotion.
There does not appear to be any straightforward answer in regards to the level and type of influence that personality traits play on romantic relationships.
While much research has focused on the similarity between couples, it seems more likely that there is mixture of trait similarity and dissimilarity that is unique to each relationship.
Additionally, the partner’s actual personality traits may only be partially relevant, with each other’s perceptions of those traits (strengths and weaknesses) being more important to relationship satisfaction.
To gain a more thorough understanding of personality influence on relationships, McCrae et al. (2008) states that personality should be assessed at the level of facets.
Domain-level analyses conceal important differences in the magnitude and perhaps the direction of assortment effects, and lead to the mistaken conclusion that traits have a very limited effect on mate selection (McCrae et al., 2008).
Grattis et al. (2004) suggests that couples are not highly similar on Big Five personality factors or positive expressivity, and to the extent that they are similar, happy and unhappy couples seem to be paired in slightly different ways.
This suggests that even significant (dis)similarity between partners on Big Five personality dimensions simply may not play much of a role in marital satisfaction.
Perhaps Grattis et al.’s (2004) claim in combination with the vast conflicting empirical research suggests that we deepen the focus to move away from the broad generalities of the Big Five personality domains, or maybe even redirect our focus entirely with less attention on personality.
Taking a closer look at the facets of personality will undoubtedly provide more thorough reporting, though it will not be sufficient in understanding completely the compatibility of couples.
A more wholistic approach that includes many of the constructs discussed such as, emotionality, impulsivity, and self-esteem while bearing in mind the potential change in personality over time and life events over long periods of time would likely be most informative.
Furthermore, if these constructs do in fact influence personality in relationships, we must consider the effects of a shift in one or more of these constructs.
Emotional intelligence and impulse control can be taught, and self-esteem risen and lowered. As potentially fluctuating factors, their effect on compatibility of long-term relationships should be one of the many focuses for future research.
Significant discrepancies have been noted in many studies, citing the inconsistent results that self-report measures produce. First, further analysis should be done to develop an understanding for reasons why this measure varies from behavior-based (and other) measures for personality.
This would likely provide useful insight into how individuals view themselves or their understanding of a description of a personality trait (versus the experience/behavior of that same trait).
Addressing a primary cause of discrepancies within similar research may develop a reliable standard from which to continue studies.
Finally, many findings highlight the interaction of traits specific to wives and husbands. This presents the possibility that matching the personalities of heterosexual couples may be different in matching the personalities of homosexual couples.
The research on same-sex couples, especially in comparison to gender-mixed couples is scant, and should be an inclusion criteria in future studies.
Social networking sites like Facebook are considered nonymous (opposite of anonymous) and are usually used to connect with connections that have been made offline (Zhao Grasmuck & Martin, 2008).
Users can connect with people, upload pictures and share their interest with their friends. Facebook supports the maintenance of existing relationships and the formation of new connections (Ellison, Steinfield, & Lampe, 2007).
Social networking sites can help facilitate and maintain relationships between romantic partners. Facebook connects partners together online by allowing them to view their profile, post pictures with/of each other, and also can physically link profiles of partners together when the relationship status is changed.
The promotion of one’s relationship of facebook can also be seen as a form of self-presentation and can be used to help boost the person’s popularity (Lukacs, 2012). Utz and Beukeboom (2011) discuss three characteristics of social networking sites that can influence relationships.
The first is that social networking sites increase the amount of information that romantic couples receive about their significant other. Social networking sites allow us to see things on our partner’s profile that can influence our emotions towards them.
If a partner sees a picture of his/her significant other at a party that they did not know about then it is likely to create bridging in the relationship. The second characteristic is that social networking sites make it relatively easy to monitor partners.
Facebook makes it simple and anonymous if a partner feels jealous to basically spy on their significant other without them knowing. The last characteristic of social networking sites it that information about and relevant to a romantic.