Personality plasticity in later adulthood: Contextual and personal resources are needed to increase openness to new experiences

Research output: Contribution to journalResearch articleContributedpeer-review


  • Andrea Mühlig-Versen - , Jacobs University Bremen (Author)
  • Catherine E. Bowen - , Jacobs University Bremen (Author)
  • Ursula M. Staudinger - , Jacobs University Bremen (Author)


The central objective of the present study was to investigate whether it would be possible to facilitate increases in openness to new experiences in later adulthood. Specifically, we investigated whether individuals with higher internal control beliefs (personal resource) provided with training to successfully prepare them for a challenging volunteering context (contextual resources) would increase in openness. Participants of the training program (n = 148, 44-72 years, Mage = 62.80) and a control group of volunteers (n = 92, 46-80 years, Mage = 63.01) were assessed 3 times: before the training program (T0), after the training program (T1), and 1 year later (T2). As expected, there was a significant training by internal control beliefs interaction such that participants of the training program with higher internal control beliefs increased significantly in openness relative to control participants between T1 and T2. The current study provides evidence for the plasticity of personality in later adulthood and confirms the importance of both personal and contextual resources.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)855-866
Number of pages12
JournalPsychology and aging
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2012
Externally publishedYes

External IDs

PubMed 22846062



  • Internal control beliefs, Intervention, Openness to new experiences, Personality change, Plasticity