October 14-16, 2015
Miami, Florida

Invited Panel

Personality Development in Young Adulthood from a Lifespan Perspective.

This discussion session will focus on personality development in young adulthood. Recent longitudinal studies have shown that personality matures systematically during young adulthood: young adults tend to become more agreeable, more conscientious, and less neurotic. Bringing together four experts in the field of personality development, we will focus on the cross-cultural evidence for personality development and the theoretical explanations for this development. There are two dominant theoretical explanations for these developmental patterns: The five-factor theory proposes that personality maturation is largely determined by intrinsic, biological factors, and is relatively impervious to environmental influences. In contrast, the social-investment theory proposes that personality maturation is largely the result of normative role changes across the life course that are in part historically and culturally determined, such as work, marriage and parenthood. Young adults go through many role changes like the formation of a long-lasting intimate relationship and the transition to tertiary education and work, and these salient transitions may go hand in hand with changes in personality in early adulthood life. We will discuss the evidence for these explanations, thereby also focusing on personality development in social context, and the relation of personality development to psychopathology. Questions that will be addressed are: How universal is the development of personality across the lifespan and in young adulthood in particular? How much evidence is there for the five-factor theory and the social investment theory? How does personality development relate to personality disorders and psychopathology?
The panel members each have eminent expertise in the development of personality. Brent Roberts is professor of psychology in the Department of Psychology at the University of Illinois, in the Social-Personality-Organizational Division. His primary line of research is dedicated to understanding the patterns of continuity and change in personality across the decades of adulthood and the mechanisms that affect these patterns. Brent Donnellan is professor of Psychology at Texas A & M University and investigates research topics at the intersections of personality psychology, developmental psychology, and psychological assessment. His current research efforts focus on personality trait development and evaluating the connections between personality traits and functioning in family relationships as well as functioning in agentic settings such as work and school. Theo Klimstra works at the department of Developmental Psychology of Tilburg University. He investigates development of personality and identity during adolescence and young adulthood. He is interested in both long-term and short –term developmental processes in personality, as well as in the associations of personality development with identity and adjustment in important domains of life. Susan Branje is professor of adolescent development at Utrecht University. Her work focuses on understanding the developmental changes in adolescents’ and young adults’ personality and the relations with interpersonal relationships and psychosocial adjustment. Together they form an outstanding panel to discuss the questions raised in this discussion session.

Panel members (alphabetically):


M. Brent Donnellan, PhD
Professor of Psychology
Department of Psychology
Texas A & M University




Theo Klimstra, PhD
Assistant Professor
Department of Developmental Psychology
Tilburg University






Brent W. Roberts, PhD
Professor of Personality Psychology
Department of Psychology
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign



Susan Branje, PhD
Professor of Adolescent Development and Socialization
Research Centre Adolescent Development
Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences
Utrecht University