Individual differences and personality traits across situations
More details
Hide details
Psychosomatic Medicine and Group Psychotherapy, Psychiatric Day Hospital “La Clé”, Liège, Belgium
Department of Psychology, University of Liège, Liège, Belgium
Department of Psychiatry, Medical Psychology, University of Liège, CHU of Liège, Belgium
Department of Psychology, Psychology & Neuroscience of Cognition Research Unit, University of Liège, Liège, Belgium
Julian A. Nasello   

Psychosomatic Medicine and Group Psychotherapy, Psychiatric Day Hospital “La Clé”, Liège, Belgium
Submission date: 2022-04-20
Final revision date: 2023-01-26
Acceptance date: 2023-01-26
Online publication date: 2023-03-22
According to the Big Five theory, personality can be classified into five traits (i.e., extraversion, neuroticism, conscientious-ness, agreeableness, and openness), and past research showed that situations impact personality. In the present study, (1) we measured which of these five personality traits changed according to different situations and (2) tested whether the across-situation variability (ASV; i.e., a continuous variable showing how much people change their personality traits ac-cording to situations) was significantly connected with specific personality domains, revealing a potential marker of person-ality disturbance.

Participants and procedure:
We recruited 80 participants (40 women) to complete the five situation-version (family, work, friends, romantic partner, and hobbies/leisure) of the Big Five Inventory to measure whether personality traits significantly changed across these situa-tions. In addition, we ran a network analysis to reveal how the ASV is related to personality traits.

The findings showed that all traits significantly changed across the situations, except openness, which remained stable. The network analysis revealed that the ASV variable was especially connected with conscientiousness (in romantic partner and family situations).

Most personality traits were flexible, showing how important it is to consider the role of situations in the study of personal-ity. Openness appeared to be particularly stable and understanding its nature represents a challenge for future studies. Final-ly, the network analysis demonstrated that the ASV shows specific connections with conscientiousness and might be a potential psychopathology marker.

Allport, G. W., & Odbert, H. S. (1936). Trait-names: a psycho-lexical study. Psychological Monographs, 47, i–171.
Anastasi, A. (1983). Traits, states, and situations: a comprehensive view. In H. Wainer & S. Messick (Eds.), Principles of modern psychological measurement (pp. 345–356). Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group.
APA (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders – DSM-5 (5th ed.). APA Publishing.
Barrick, M. R., Mount, M. K., & Judge, T. A. (2001). Personality and performance at the beginning of the new mil-lennium: What do we know and where do we go next? International Journal of Selection and Assessment, 9, 9–30.
Bleidorn, W., Hopwood, C. J., & Lucas, R. E. (2018). Life events and personality trait change. Journal of Personality, 86, 83–96.
Bleidorn, W., Schwaba, T., Zheng, A., Hopwood, C., Sosa, S., Roberts, B., & Briley, D. (2022). Personality stability and change: a meta-analysis of longitudinal studies. Psychological Bulletin, 148, 588–619.
Childs, B. R., Weidman, J. E., Farnsworth, C. B., & Christofferson, J. P. (2017). Use of personality profile assess-ments in the US commercial construction industry. International Journal of Construction Education and Re-search, 13, 267–283.
Clark, L. A., Nuzum, H., Shapiro, J. L., Vanderbleek, E. N., Daly, E. J., Simons, A. D., & Ro, E. (2020). Personality profiles as potential targets for intervention: Identification and replication. Personality and Mental Health, 14, 142–163.
Clifton, A. (2014). Variability in personality expression across contexts: a social network approach. Journal of Per-sonality, 82, 103–115.
Cloninger, C. R., & Svrakic, D. M. (2016). Personality disorders. In S. H. Fatemi & P. J. Clayton (Eds.), The medical basis of psychiatry (pp. 537–551). Springer.
Costa, P. T., & McCrae, R. R. (1992). Normal personality assessment in clinical practice: The NEO Personality In-ventory. Psychological Assessment, 4, 5–13.
Damian, R. I., Spengler, M., Sutu, A., & Roberts, B. W. (2019). Sixteen going on sixty-six: a longitudinal study of personality stability and change across 50 years. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 117, 674–695.
Davidson, R. J., & Begley, S. (2012). The emotional life of your brain. Hudson Street Press.
De Fruyt, F., Bartels, M., Van Leeuwen, K. G., De Clercq, B., Decuyper, M., & Mervielde, I. (2006). Five types of personality continuity in childhood and adolescence. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 91, 538–552.
Dinero, R. E., Conger, R. D., Shaver, P. R., Widaman, K. F., & Larsen-Rife, D. (2008). Influence of family of origin and adult romantic partners on romantic attachment security. Journal of Family Psychology, 22, 622–632.
Donnellan, M. B., & Lucas, R. E. (2008). Age differences in the Big Five across the life span: Evidence from two national samples. Psychology and Aging, 23, 558–566.
Edmonds, G. W., & Hill, P. L. (2020). Personality stability over time. In B. J Carducci & C. S. Nave (Eds.), The Wiley encyclopedia of personality and individual differences. Volume I: Models and theories (pp. 329–339). John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
Epskamp, S., Rhemtulla, M. T., & Borsboom, D. (2017). Generalized network psychometrics: Combining network and latent variable models. Psychometrika, 82, 904–927.
Epskamp, S., Borsboom, D., & Fried, E. I. (2018), Estimating psychological networks and their accuracy: a tutorial paper. Behavior Research Methods, 50, 195–212.
Epskamp, S., Cramer, A. O., Waldorp, L. J., Schmittmann, V. D., & Borsboom, D. (2012). qgraph: Network visuali-zations of relationships in psychometric data. Journal of Statistical Software, 48, 1–18.
Faul, F., Erdfelder, E., Lang, A. G., & Buchner, A. (2007). G*Power 3: a flexible statistical power analysis program for the social, behavioral, and biomedical sciences. Behavior Research Methods, 39, 175–191.
Fleeson, W. (2001). Toward a structure-and process-integrated view of personality: Traits as density distributions of states. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 80, 1011–1027.
Foygel, R., & Drton, M. (2010). Extended Bayesian information criteria for Gaussian graphical models. Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems, 23, 604–612.
Funder, D. C. (2006). Towards a resolution of the personality triad: Persons, situations, and behaviors. Journal of Research in Personality, 40, 21–34.
JASP Team (2022). JASP (version [Computer software].
Jensen‐Campbell, L. A., & Graziano, W. G. (2001). Agreeableness as a moderator of interpersonal conflict. Journal of Personality, 69, 323–362.
John, O. P., Donahue, E. M., & Kentle, R. L. (1991). The Big Five Inventory – versions 4a and 5. Institute of Personal-ity and Social Research, University of California, Berkeley.
Judge, T. A., Heller, D., & Mount, M. K. (2002). Five-factor model of personality and job satisfaction: a meta-analysis. Journal of Applied Psychology, 87, 530–541.
Karney, B. R., & Bradbury, T. N. (1997). Neuroticism, marital interaction, and the trajectory of marital satisfac-tion. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 72, 1075–1092.
Kotov, R., Gamez, W., Schmidt, F., & Watson, D. (2010). Linking “big” personality traits to anxiety, depressive, and substance use disorders: a meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 136, 768–821.
McCrae, R. R., Martin, T. A., & Costa, P. T. (2005). Age trends and age norms for the NEO Personality Inventory-3 in adolescents and adults. Assessment, 12, 363–373.
Mischel, W. (1969). Continuity and change in personality. American Psychologist, 24, 1012–1018.
Mroczek, D. K., & Spiro, A. (2003). Modeling intraindividual change in personality traits: Findings from the nor-mative aging study. The Journals of Gerontology: Series B, 58, 153–165.
Naragon‐Gainey, K., & Simms, L. J. (2017). Clarifying the links of conscientiousness with internalizing and exter-nalizing psychopathology. Journal of Personality, 85, 880–892.
Parrigon, S., Woo, S. E., Tay, L., & Wang, T. (2017). CAPTION-ing the situation: a lexically-derived taxonomy of psychological situation characteristics. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 112, 642–681.
Plaisant, O., Courtois, R., Réveillère, C., Mendelsohn, G. A., & John, O. P. (2010). Validation par analyse factorielle du Big Five Inventory français (BFI-Fr). A nalyse convergente avec le NEO-PI-R [Factor structure and internal reliability of the French Big Five Inventory (BFI-Fr). Convergent and discriminant validation with the NEO-PI-R]. Annales Médico-Psychologiques, Revue Psychiatrique, 168, 97–106.
R Core Team (2017). R: a language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Compu-ting. Retrieved from
Rauthmann, J. F., Gallardo-Pujol, D., Guillaume, E. M., Todd, E., Nave, C. S., Sherman, R. A., Ziegler, M., Jones, A. B., & Funder, D. C. (2014). The Situational Eight DIAMONDS: a taxonomy of major dimensions of situation characteristics. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 107, 677–718.
Roberts, B. W., & DelVecchio, W. F. (2000). The rank-order consistency of personality traits from childhood to old age: a quantitative review of longitudinal studies. Psychological Bulletin, 126, 3–25.
Roberts, B. W., Walton, K. E., & Viechtbauer, W. (2006). Patterns of mean-level change in personality traits across the life course: a meta-analysis of longitudinal studies. Psychological Bulletin, 132, 1–25.
Sarti, R., Bellavitis, A., & Martini, M. (2018). What is work? Gender at the crossroads of home, family, and business from the early modern era to the present (Vol. 30). Berghahn Books.
Sayehmiri, K., Kareem, K. I., Abdi, K., Dalvand, S., & Gheshlagh, R. G. (2020). The relationship between personality traits and marital satisfaction: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC Psychology, 8, 15.
Schaufeli, W. B., & Taris, T. W. (2005). The conceptualization and measurement of burnout: Common ground and worlds apart. Work & Stress, 19, 256–262.
Schwaba, T., Bleidorn, W., Hopwood, C. J., Manuck, S. B., & Wright, A. G. C. (2022). Refining the maturity princi-ple of personality development by examining facets, close others, and comaturation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 122, 942–958.
Scollon, C. N., & Diener, E. (2006). Love, work, and changes in extraversion and neuroticism over time. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 91, 1152–1165.
Soto, C. J., John, O. P., Gosling, S. D., & Potter, J. (2011). Age differences in personality traits from 10 to 65: Big Five domains and facets in a large cross-sectional sample. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 100, 330–348.
Specht, J., Bleidorn, W., Denissen, J. J., Hennecke, M., Hutteman, R., Kandler, C., Luhmann, M., Orth, U., Reitz, A. K., & Zimmermann, J. (2014). What drives adult personality development? A comparison of theoretical per-spectives and empirical evidence. European Journal of Personality, 28, 216–230.
Terracciano, A., McCrae, R. R., & Costa, P. T. (2010). Intra-individual change in personality stability and age. Jour-nal of Research in Personality, 44, 31–37.
Tong, W., Li, P., Zhou, N., He, Q., Ju, X., Lan, J., Li, X., & Fang, X. (2018). Marriage improves neuroticism in Chi-nese newlyweds: Communication and marital affect as mediators. Journal of Family Psychology, 32, 986–991.
Twenge, J. M. (2001). Birth cohort changes in extraversion: a cross-temporal meta-analysis, 1966-1993. Personality and Individual Differences, 30, 735–748.
Twenge, J. M., & Campbell, S. M. (2008). Generational differences in psychological traits and their impact on the workplace. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 23, 862–877.
van Doorn, J., van den Bergh, D., Böhm, U., Dablander, F., Derks, K., Draws, T., Evans, N. J., Gronau, Q. F., Haaf, J. M., Hinne, M., Kucharský, S., Ly, A., Marsman, M., Matzke, D., Komarly Narendra Gupta, A. R., Sarafoglou, A., Stefan, A., & Wagenmakers, E. J. (2021). The JASP guidelines for conducting and reporting a Bayesian anal-ysis. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 28, 813–826.
Wilmot, M. P., & Ones, D. S. (2019). A century of research on conscientiousness at work. Proceedings of the Na-tional Academy of Sciences, 116, 23004–23010.
Wilmot, M. P., Wanberg, C. R., Kammeyer-Mueller, J. D., & Ones, D. S. (2019). Extraversion advantages at work: a quantitative review and synthesis of the meta-analytic evidence. Journal of Applied Psychology, 104, 1447–1470.
Ziegler, M., & Horstmann, K. (2015). Discovering the second side of the coin: Integrating situational perception into psychological assessment. European Journal of Psychological Assessment, 31, 69–74.
Ziegler, M., Horstmann, K. T., & Ziegler, J. (2019). Personality in situations: Going beyond the OCEAN and intro-ducing the Situation Five. Psychological Assessment, 31, 567–580.
Copyright: © Institute of Psychology, University of Gdansk This is an Open Access journal, all articles are distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) License (, allowing third parties to copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format and to remix, transform, and build upon the material, provided the original work is properly cited and states its license.