Until recently, researchers believed personality, the way an individual thinks, behaves and reacts, was locked in early in life and changed little over our life span.
Dr Martin’s research, however, shows that an individual’s personality is more easily changed than previously thought.
In her research, Dr Martin asked participants to identify specific aspects of their personality profile that they would like to change. A 10-week coaching program was then used to help the participants achieve these changes. Not only were the participants able to make significant changes over the 10-week period, these changes were maintained three months afterwards.
“This research is very important. Our personality has a significant impact across all areas of our lives; it impacts on our mental and physical health, what we achieve in life, and our relationships. If people are able to change specific personality traits for the better, people are likely to live happier and healthier lives,” Dr Martin said.
The study found that participants most often wanted to change aspects of personality related to emotionality and conscientiousness. Interviews with the participants at the end of the study found that personality coaching had helped them be more reflective, self aware and authentic, without losing valued aspects of their personality. It produced practical life benefits including enhanced confidence and competence, and a strengthened ability to relate to others.
Dr Lindsay Oades, a co-researcher on the study in UOW’s Sydney Business School, noted that this study appears to be the first of its kind to look at our ability to intentionally change our personality.
“While it is a preliminary study, it raises some very exciting ideas about where this might lead to in the future,” Dr Oades said.
The University of Wollongong School of Psychology is continuing its research into changing personality traits and conscientiousness.
Note to media: Photos available upon request
Media contact: Jacqueline Wales, Media Officer at UOW, on +61 2 4221 4582