Would you like to be more extroverted, relaxed and less moody? Or have you been generally dissatisfied with your behavior? Then the good news is that you don’t just have to accept your personality, you can actually change it. This is suggested by the results of a Swiss study that was published in the scientific journal “PNAS”.
There is no question that personality traits can change in the course of life. Research shows that, for example, emotional stability and conscientiousness tend to increase with age. Apart from these natural developments, however, it has so far been the case that it is relatively difficult and time-consuming to change your own personality “as you wish”. There are special coachings or therapies for personal development, but they usually take a long time – and they cost a lot.
Mathias Allemand from the University of Zurich and his research team wanted to investigate whether it is also possible to change a personality with the help of a simple app. They developed a smartphone app that uses videos and a chatbot to convey knowledge about how to first reflect on one’s own habitual behavior. Instructions are then used to explain how new behavior can be established. The app has a reminder function for self-formulated “if-then plans”, saves progress and gives feedback.
1,500 adults, who averaged 25 years old, then tested the program as part of the study. For this purpose, the participants should work on a specific characteristic of their personality with the app for three months. The participants were divided into a test group and a control group, with the control group starting the program one month after the test group.
Most wanted serenity, conscientiousness, and sociability
The participants had five different categories to choose from for working on their personality: More than a quarter of the respondents chose the category “Emotional stability (serenity)”, just under a further quarter chose “Conscientiousness” and “Extraversion (sociability)”. Seven percent of the participants opted for more “openness to new things”, and a total of 10 percent opted for “tolerance” – with six percent wishing for less and four percent more tolerance. Compatibility here means how well you cooperate with others and take yourself back to ensure a good atmosphere in groups.
At the end of the three-month program, the researchers tested the participants’ five basic personality traits using a total of 60 questions. The result: extraversion, conscientiousness, emotional stability and tolerance actually increased among the participants, mind you, according to their own statements. The participants in the test group also felt themselves closer to their goals than participants in the control group.
Outsiders such as friends or family members of the participants also confirmed more extraversion, conscientiousness and tolerance than changes in character – but not emotional stability. According to the researchers, this is because emotional stability is difficult to detect from the outside, at least over shorter periods of time. Even three months after using the app, the personality change persisted, according to the researchers.
However, there was one downer: the participants who wanted to be more open to new ideas unfortunately did not develop in their desired direction.
According to the researchers, the study results show that people are not simply exposed to their personality, but can actually change it in their own energy. However, it is not yet known whether the changes that have been made will persist in the long term. It is also still open whether and how exactly the change in behavior can actually be demonstrated.
More research will be needed here. This should then also clarify whether the changes can possibly be traced back to the wishful thinking of the participants or the socially desirable response behavior, write the scientists. If you want, you can signal your interest as a test person on the website.
It is possible that these questions will soon be answered in real life using the test. Because the app with the name “Peach” (Personality Coach) should find its way from the laboratory to the market in the future. If you want to try them out, you should be aware that an app and a simple wish are not enough to change your personality permanently. It may go faster than before. But it still requires you to deal intensively with your attitude and your own behavior.