In psychology, the idea that personality is a static identity solidified as early as age 7 is a popular one. But a new review of 207 studies on personality trait changes runs counter to that argument, finding that with the help of a therapist, a person can change aspects of their personality in as little as three months.
Researchers looked specifically at neuroticism, which is one of the "Big 5" personality traits. Often linked with high anxiety, fear, and rumination, neuroticism is associated with negative thought patterns that tend to mellow out with age. This led study author Brent Roberts to wonder whether or not you could deliberately change your personality, given the right guidance.
In the end, the team found that just three months of therapy lowered neuroticism "by about half the amount you might expect to see over 30 to 40 years of adulthood," explains Live Science. In other words, you get half of a life in just three months' worth of living.
Roberts and team do mention a few caveats, namely the idea that the highly neurotic people studied merely returned to "normal" levels with the help of a therapist; in other words, a true personality switch wasn't achieved for them. Regardless, the idea that you have some level of control over the type of person you are is intriguing enough.
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