Is the “Self” a constant, or does it change over time? A lot of people seem to believe that who we are as a person doesn’t really change during the course of our lifetime. Some people tend to think of the “Self” as an ever-molding entity that experiences drastic changes due to varied experiences. The answer to this question has remained a mystery for a long time, but a recently concluded study attempts to understand and reveal our true nature.

Stranger to yourself

In 2012, the longest ever personality test conducted in history reached a fascinating conclusion.

The results of this test were published in the journal – Psychology and Aging. The point of this study was to understand if human beings really change in terms of their personality during the course of one’s lifetime, and the answer is a resounding yes!

The study first began in the 1940’s when 1,208 teenagers were made to participate in a personality test in order to establish a baseline of results. Out of this sample group, 174 were tracked down in 2012 and given an identical Personality Test in order to measure any changes. When comparing the results of the latest test with the one conducted 63 years ago, psychologists noticed some startling changes.

It turns out that not only were the people who participated in this test different from their former teenage self, the difference was so stark that it was actually hard to establish any similarity between the teenager and the elderly version of the same individual.

Psychologists therefore concluded that “there is no relationship whatsoever between the personality of a person at the age of 14 and at age 77”.

Implications of the study

The psychologists noticed that as the interval between two personality tests were increased, the relationship between the two ended up getting weaker and weaker.

Simply put, the older we get, the lesser we recognize our teenage self. The difference between the two personality tests taken in the 1940’s and in 2012 was extremely stark, because it was the largest interval between two tests in history.

The researchers noted that we sometimes don’t perceive these changes within our own self simply because the change is so gradual. Even if we feel like the same person we were a decade ago, it is only an illusion.