Does personality change or remains stable over course of development?

  • Erikson and Levinson = substantial change
  • Paul Costa and Robert McCrae = stability in traits across development

Psychologists argue whether personality changes or remains stable over the course of development.

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Erikson and Levinson suggest that personality changes substantially over the life span.

Paul Costa and Robert McCrae find remarkable stability in particular traits across the life span.

Developmentalists feel that personality is both stable (on some traits) and changeable on others.

Middle Age: In Some Cultures It Doesn’t Exist

Model of aging of Oriyan women

  • High caste Hindu women
  • Life course based on nature of one’s social responsibility, family management issues, and moral sense at given time  not on basis of chronological age
  • Domestic work is highly respected and valued
  • The model of aging of the Oriyan women is based on two phases of life: life in her father’s house (bapa gharo), followed by life in her husband’s mother’s house (sasu gharo). These two segments make sense in the context of Oriyan family life, which consists of multigenerational households in which marriages are arranged. After they are married, husbands remain with their parents and wives are expected to move into the husband’s parents’ household. At the time of marriage, a wife is seen as having changed social status from a child (someone’s daughter) to a sexually active female.
  • Chronological age, per se, does not mark significant boundaries in life for Oriyan women, nor do physical changes, such as the onset of menstruation nor its cessation at menopause. Instead, it is the change from daughter to daughter-in-law which brings about a significant alteration in social responsibility.


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