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Old age changes our personality, and for the better too!

Updated on September 25, 2016

No matter how hasty or reckless, stressed out or nervous we tend to go through our twenties or thirties, old age does in fact break this chain of quite common modern man behavioral pattern, and believe it or not, for the better too!

What are the first thoughts that come to your mind when thinking about old age? Helpless? Depending on others? Nursing home? Deteriorating health? Well sir, if that is the case, you are missing quite a significant part of the cake, and I am not even going to talk about earned respect of the elderly, the wisdom accumulated over the years so rarely put in use. In this article I am going to argue that old people are not necessarily grumpy folks that got run down by life, but it is merely a bias that has nothing to do with the truth. Over the years people in fact become more sympathetic, responsible and calm.

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While it is widely accepted that our personality is somewhat genetically predetermined and already fully formed until the age of 25, things do not seem to be as simple. Several large studies have shown that personality naturally changes over time, and as we become older, we become better and more comfortable people to hang around with. In short, when it comes to personality, age brings positive changes.

We become more responsible

When people reach adult age they gradually begin to worry about their job, obligations and persons close to and actually become more responsible. On the other hand, we tend to become less prone to meeting new people, but also less irritable and angry as well as emotionally stable.

That is what four-year research conducted by scientists at Stanford University showed, which examined how the five fundamental personality traits that do not depend on the mood change over the years.

These five characteristics are:

  • conscientiousness
  • bonhomie
  • neuroticism
  • openness to new
  • extroversion

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Five important factors

Research has also shown that personality is not only a consequence of biology or genes, but is the result of experience, one’s age, social environment in which we find ourselves and sex. Because of that, personality is prone to changes.

Conscientiousness

When it comes to acting in good faith, which also includes organizational skills, problem-solving skills and discipline, this characteristic is rapidly developing in our twenties, with time it tends to progress and we consequentially become even more efficient, conscientious and responsible towards personal obligations.

The initial rapid development of this characteristic in the early twenties is explained by one’s first encounter with the labour market and family obligations, while the later progression is probably associated with personal experience on the basis of which we begin to understand the importance of compliance.

Bonhomie

As for compassion, it includes warmth, generosity and willingness to help others, and this feature improves most in thirties and forties and continues to develop, especially in women.

Neuroticism

Neuroticism, consisting of anxiety and instability, eventually decreases regarding women, while in men levels of neuroticism do not change much over time.

Openness

Openness and our desire to acquire new experiences and meet new people is somewhat diminishing over the years, and this is equally represented in men and women.

Extroversion

On the other hand, extroversion and the need for confirmation in the environment is showed to be reduced in women, while regarding men, it does not change much.

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In general, it can be concluded that people do not necessarily become grumpy and likely to avoid when they get old, as goes the usual saying. On the contrary, it seems that old age, even though we may be less inclined to experimenting and less extroverted, finally brings us to become more conscientious and responsible, we cease to be neurotic or at least become neurotic to a lesser extent, and become much more pleasant company because we are warmer and more willing to come to the rescue.

Prejudice regarding seniors need to be broken down and seen for what they really are- prejudice. Instead, try and focus on what really matters: life wisdom of our elderly, any time helping hand and pleasantness of such smile.

"Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter."

— Mark Twain

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