Veni Project - Major Life Transitions and Personality Development in Young Adulthood

Project: Research project

Project Details


Personality traits are predictive of mental health, physical health, and even longevity. It is therefore crucial to examine which factors underlie personality development across the life span. On average, young adults show positive personality changes (e.g., increases in conscientiousness), but also large individual differences in change. At the same time, they go through important changes in social roles: they start careers, relationships, and families. Previous research usually studied whether one life event triggers average changes in personality. This approach implicitly assumes that people experience an event in similar ways and does not take into account that life events usually happen in predictable sequences. The overarching goal of this project is to systematically examine individual differences in personality development across multiple major life transitions in young adulthood.
The proposed project consists of two studies: (1) a quasi-experimental case-control design to examine what explains individual differences in personality development in response to starting a first job after graduation, first cohabitation, and first-time parenthood, and (2) a holistic, descriptive approach to examine long-term personality change across multiple life transitions. For both studies, I will use representative longitudinal data. In study 1, moderators of personality change are examined by supplementing existing longitudinal data with new questionnaires on social role experiences. In study 2, sequence analysis is used to study personality change across multiple age-graded roles in young adulthood.
With the results of this project, I aim to provide a nuanced and holistic framework of the association between major life transitions and personality development in young adulthood. This project additionally contributes to understanding under which conditions and at which stage in life young people are at risk for possible negative changes in personality (e.g., increases in neuroticism) and can help improve intervention programs for young adults that struggle with major life transitions.

Layman's description

Wat drijft de persoonlijkheidsontwikkeling in de jongvolwassenheid? Een groot aantal onderzoeken heeft aangetoond dat mensen vriendelijker, zorgvuldiger, en emotioneel stabieler worden vanaf de jongvolwassenheid tot aan middelbare leeftijd. Tegelijkertijd maken jongvolwassenen belangrijke veranderingen door in hun sociale rollen: ze starten carrières, relaties, en gezinnen. In dit project wordt gekeken hoe meerdere levensgebeurtenissen bijdragen aan persoonlijkheidsontwikkeling van jongvolwassenen, en of persoonlijke ervaringen tijdens de transitie (bijv., stress, impact) verklaren waarom sommige mensen meer veranderen dan anderen.
Effective start/end date1/09/2231/08/25


  • Personality Traits
  • Major Life Transitions
  • Development
  • Young Adulthood


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