Can Personality Change?

Pages: 368
Item #: 4318271
ISBN: 978-1-55798-425-8
List Price: $19.95
Member/Affiliate Price: $19.95
Publication Date: 1994
Format: Hardcover
Note: This book is out of print and no longer available for purchase.

The question, "Can Personality Change?" has absorbed psychologists since William James first proposed that personality was "set in plaster" by early adulthood. Although there is substantial evidence for both personality stability and change, the trick is to understand what changes and what does not, when to expect stability and when to expect change, and why these occur as they do.

In this volume, leading figures in the field of personality research examine provocative theories of change and stability, present important new data from longitudinal research, and discuss state-of-the-art measurement issues. In addition to exploring solid traditional approaches to studying personality stability and change, this volume stimulates fresh insights by examining such processes as sudden transformational change; by looking to the addiction and recovery field for clues as to how change occurs or is blocked; and by tracing precursors to change, such as the "crystallization of discontent."

Whether personality can change is arguably one of the most important and interesting issues facing psychologists today. This volume asks the right questions and arrives at answers that will intrigue all those whose research or practice is involved with how people change.

Table of Contents




  1. Conceptual Issues in Assessing Whether Personality Can Change
    —Todd F. Heatherton and Patricia A. Nichols

I. Agents of Stability

  1. Set Like Plaster? Evidence for the Stability of Adult Personality
    —Paul T. Costa, Jr., and Robert R. McCrae
  2. Personality Evoked: The Evolutionary Psychology of Stability and Change
    —David M. Buss
  3. .5 + or – .5: Continuity and Change in Personal Dispositions
    —Nathan Brody

II. Theory and Measurement

  1. Personality Change: Metatheories and Alternatives
    —Roger D. Davis and Theodore Millon
  2. Assessing Constancy and Change
    —John R. Nesselroade and Steven M. Boker
  3. Using Growth Curve Analyses to Assess Personality Change and Stability in Adulthood
    —A. George Alder and Steven J. Scher
  4. If Behaviors Change, Can Personality Be Far Behind?
    —Carlo C. DiClemente

III. Change and the Life Cycle

  1. Personality Change in Adulthood
    —Ravenna Helson and Abigail Stewart
  2. Does Thought Content Change As Individuals Age? A Longitudinal Study of Midlife Adults
    —Carol E. Franz

IV. Conceptions of Change

  1. Quantum Change: Toward a Psychology of Transformation
    —William R. Miller and Janet C'deBaca
  2. The Crystallization of Discontent in the Process of Major Life Change
    —Roy F. Baumeister
  3. Can Personality Change? Levels of Stability and Growth in Personality Across the Life Span
    —Dan P. McAdams
  4. Personality Stability, Personality Change, and the Question of Process
    —Lawrence A. Pervin


  1. Can Personality Change?
    —Joel L. Weinberger


About the Editors

Editor Bios

Todd F. Heatherton received a PhD from the University of Toronto for his research on the effects of emotional distress on eating behavior. In 1990, following postdoctoral work in social and personality psychology at Case Western Reserve University, he joined the Department of Psychology at Harvard University. His primary research interests lie in examining the development, prediction, measurement, and behavioral consequences of chronic dieting (restrained eating). Current research interests also include understanding fluctuations in self-esteem, self-regulatory capacities, and narrative accounts of life change attempts. He is on the editorial board of Psychology of Addictive Behaviors and the Journal of Research in Personality.

Joel L. Weinberger is a practicing clinical psychologist and assistant professor at the Derner Institute of Advanced Psychological Studies at Adelphi University. He received a PhD in clinical psychology at the Graduate Faculty of the New School for Social Research and conducted postdoctoral work in human motivation at Harvard University. His areas of specialization include human motivation, unconscious processes, longitudinal personality research, and psychoanalytic and integrative psychotherapy. He has been published in all of these areas and is currently writing a book on unconscious processes.