A long-running study finds people's characters don't remain fixed

In the new research, published in December 2016 in Psychology and Aging, researchers in the U.K. reached out to a group of 635 77-year-olds from Scotland who had taken part in a study when they were 14. Back then, their teachers had rated them on six personality characteristics related to dependability: self-confidence, perseverance, mood stability, conscientiousness, originality and desire to excel. Some 60 years later a total of 174 participants from the original cohort rated themselves on the same six traits and had a close friend or relative rate them as well.

Lead author Ian Deary, a psychologist at the University of Edinburgh, expected, based on earlier findings, that dependability scores might remain stable over time. In fact, he and his colleagues found no relation between ratings for dependability-related traits over the 63-year span studied. (Deary emphasizes that his findings apply only to these six traits—not overall personality.)