In April 2017, I looked at how my personality changed from 2011 to 2017 on the IPIP-NEO, my favourite free online personality test (see the website personality assessor and choose the IPIP-120 if you are interested in taking it). So I wrote this up for the article: Is it possible to change your personality?
Before April 2017, I had never really looked at how my personality changed over time — I was looking at how I rated myself compared to other males of my age from Australia. I then recently read Jordan B. Peterson’s 12 rules for life, and my favourite rule was #4:
“Compare yourself with who you were yesterday, not with who someone else is today.”
After reading this book, I thought it would be a good time to go back and see how my personality has changed over the past 15 months since I last took the IPIP-120. Of course, I already know that my psychological, emotional, spiritual, and workplace self-care have improved this year, but do these changes also contribute to positive personality changes? Let’s find out…
My Personality Assessment Results From April 2017 — August 2018
The IPIP-120 results below are from April 12th 2017, to August 1st 2018, with the description of each factor and facet written underneath it copied or paraphrased from the reports found at personality assessor.
The Factor or Facet will be presented first, followed by a series of …, then the 2017 percentile score results, which are surrounded by ( ), then the 2018 results, which are not in any brackets or parentheses.
Extraversion…………… (48) — 74
I am high in Extraversion. Extraverts are sociable and like to take risks and feel lots of positive emotions.
This change is interesting to me. I agree that I have been focusing on connecting with others more and have been feeling more energetic recently, but I am still surprised to see this factor increase. I find socialising with others quite tiring after a while, and I often need time to unwind and recharge.
The six facets of extraversion are:
Friendliness…………… (58) — 88
I’m very high in my desire to be around other people and show an interest in their lives.
This has increased a lot over the past 15 months. I value quality time more than quantity time when it comes to spending time with friends but have realised just how important connection and belonging is for overall health and well-being.
Gregariousness……… (42) — 77
I’m very high in flocking toward other people and being talkative and sociable around them.
I am much more comfortable having downtime by myself or with one or two people these days, rather than going out to clubs or big parties or festivals. Even so, this increase over the past 15 months supports my resurgence towards being more sociable again like I was when I was younger.
Assertiveness………… (13) — 34
I’m more assertive than I used to be with others, but there is still a low chance that I’ll take charge and lead others.
I have begun to speak up more for myself and express my needs better over the past 15 months. However, I still prefer to help people be the person they want to be, rather than try to lead them or tell them who I think they should be.
Activity Level………… (79) — 90
I prefer very high levels of activity, such as being on the go and staying busy.
This has increased over the last 15 months and may indicate that I am feeling more energetic or that I am currently rushing around too much and trying to do too many things all at once. I hope that if it is the latter that I manage to slow down, relax more and be more mindful of this going forward.
Excitement-Seeking… (87) — 81
I like to seek very high levels of thrills.
This has decreased a little over the past 15 months, which indicates that I have increased the amount of excitement I have in my life and enjoy it when I experience it.
Cheerfulness………… (54) — 70
I experience high levels of happiness, joy, and other positive emotions.
This is a great improvement and indicates that the regular mindfulness, gratitude, savouring and reflective practices I have been engaging in make a positive difference for me. I am also finding it easier to express positive emotions with others, including love, hope and excitement.
Agreeableness…………… (89) — 90
I am very high in agreeableness. Highly agreeable people tend to do whatever it takes to have positive relationships with other people.
This hasn’t changed much over the past 15 months. However, I don’t think it needs to be any higher either, as there could be some negatives with being too agreeable all the time.
The six facets of agreeableness are:
Trust……………… (89) — 90
I’m very high in believing that other people are generally good and not out to harm others.
Given a choice, I’d always rather give people the benefit of the doubt, to begin with, until I see evidence to the contrary. This is better than distrusting everyone except for those who prove themselves to me. If you believe others to be good and portray this in your dealings with them, it gives most people a reputation that they’ll want to uphold.
Morality………… (65) — 79
Sticking to the rules and treating everyone fairly is of very high value to me these days.
Reading the essay “Lying” by Sam Harris really helped highlight the importance of being honest or not lying to people. It’s also Jordan Peterson’s 8th rule for life. The more straightforward and congruent we can be with others, the better outcomes and connections we will have. Unfortunately, secrecy often creates a chasm that can be difficult to bridge, and having to remember which lies you told to which people is just too tiring.
Altruism………… (85) — 90
I am very high in wanting to be good to other people, including helping them when they need it.
This has continued to increase over time, which is great to see. The more people I can help with the time that I have, the better, as far as I can see. It could lead to burnout if I don’t look after myself too, but generally, kindness has more positive health benefits than negative in the long run.
Cooperation…… (99) — 99
There are extremely high chances that I’ll try to get along with other people.
This has remained as high as it can be. So that means that if you have an issue with me or something that I have written and want to try to sort it out, please do contact me. I will do my best to try to resolve it in whatever way I can.
Modesty………… (71) — 44
I have about average levels of modesty, which means that I don’t like to brag or show off too much because these behaviours can be harmful to relationships.
Too high a modesty can sometimes mean low self-esteem, and the drop in this score indicates a greater level of self-confidence. I hope it doesn’t swing too far, but it’s nice not to see myself as any better or worse than anyone else.
Sympathy………… (84) — 76
I have very high levels of sympathy for other people, including caring about them and wanting what’s best for them.
This has dropped a little bit over the last 15 months. I think it’s better to be empathetic (“I will try to feel and understand what you feel”) rather than sympathetic (“I feel bad or sorry for you”). I definitely care about others and want the best for others, but I never want to come from a position of superiority.
Conscientiousness…………… (70) — 74
I am high in conscientiousness. Highly conscientious people are diligent, hard-working, and responsible.
This is the highest that my conscientiousness has been in the 6 times I have taken the test since 2011. In the book “The Longevity Project”, which tracked individuals across 80 years to look at factors influencing healthy ageing, conscientiousness was the only personality variable associated with longer and healthier lives.
The six facets of conscientiousness are:
Self-Efficacy………… (62) — 77
When I need to do something, I have a very high level of belief that I can get it done and do it well.
This has increased quite a bit over the past 15 months and has been boosted by the various challenges that I have taken on.
Orderliness……… (80) — 88
I prefer very high levels of cleanliness and order in my environment.
It wasn’t that I didn’t prefer this in 2011 and before that, but that I really struggled to stay organised with everything. Doing a Doctoral degree definitely helped with this, as did having a very organised partner in 2014 and reading the book ‘Getting Things Done’ by David Allen.
Dutifulness……… (27) — 28
I’m low in sticking to my word, keeping my promises, and upholding my obligations.
As bad as this description makes it sound, I am actually happy that I do fewer things out of a sense of duty or obligations these days. I am more likely to tune in and figure out if something is consistent with my values and my best long-term interests before committing to something or just saying yes and then later regretting it. It means that resentment is less likely to build up for me because I am doing what I want, not what others want me to do.
Achievement-Striving… (88) — 79
I have a very high desire to work hard and get ahead.
This has dropped a little over the last 15 months, and this is because I now see just how important social connection and relationship warmth is for long term health and happiness.
Self-Discipline………. (49) — 69
I have above average self-discipline — which is the ability to get to work quickly, stay focused, and avoid distractions or procrastination.
I’m super happy that this has improved over the past 15 months. After not making videos for most of 2017, I created 31 videos for my youtube channel in 2018. I’ve also been able to stick with some of the challenges I have set for myself this year.
Cautiousness……… (89) — 88
The odds are extremely low that I’ll jump into things without really thinking them through.
This hasn’t changed much over the years, and I continue to spend high amounts of time planning what to do. I probably would benefit by being a bit more spontaneous at times with less important things and getting into more productive action as soon as I know what the right path is for me to take.
Neuroticism…………… (29) — 13
I am very low in Neuroticism. This means that I experience low levels of negative emotions, like anger, fear, and stress.
The six facets of neuroticism are:
Anxiety…………… (25) — 6
Compared with other people, I have extremely low stress, fears, and worries about the future.
This is the lowest that my anxiety score has ever been. I now feel much more resilient, which means that no matter what comes my way in the future, I have a strong feeling that I’ll be okay and that I will be able to figure out how to get through it.
Anger………………… (7) — 8
My levels of anger and irritability are extremely low.
This has increased slightly since 2011, so I am now more aware of when I feel resentful, irritable, frustrated, or angry. I basically never lose my cool but can identify what does tick me off much more than I used to, which helps me stand up for myself.
Depression……… (10) — 9
Compared with other people, I now feel extremely low amounts of sadness and like myself to a high degree.
This has continued to improve over the years’ thanks to much psychological therapy, better relationships and ongoing self-improvement.
Self-Consciousness… (71) — 50
I like to draw very low levels of attention to myself and feel high amounts of unease when interacting with others socially (especially strangers).
I have been drawing more attention to myself over the last few years through blogs, podcasts and videos, making me feel a bit self-conscious at times. However, if it helps even one person, it is worth putting my ideas out there, even if it is scary.
Immoderation…… (46) — 32
I have average self-control when it comes to resisting temptations; there are about average chances that I’ll give in to my desires and binge (on shopping, eating, drinking, or whatever my vices are).
This has decreased a bit over the past 15 months, which is consistent with my increase in self-discipline. I’ve been saving a lot more money lately and making less impulsive choices in what I buy. Having a mortgage to pay off now does help, too, especially with an offset account that I put all my money into every month. It leads to a sensation of less disposable income that I have to waste on whatever I feel like at the moment.
Vulnerability…… (45) — 14
The chances that I’ll be overwhelmed by difficult circumstances are about average.
This has decreased heaps over the last year. Similar to the anxiety drop, I feel less under threat and more resilient no matter what occurs.
Openness to experience…… (93) — 95
I am extremely high in openness to experience, and increasingly so over the past seven years. Openness is a broad, diffuse personality dimension with many seemingly different facets. In general, highly open people like various new experiences, whether physical, emotional, intellectual, or cultural.
The six facets of openness are:
Imagination………… (15) — 14
I have very low imagination and therefore tend not to use it too much to escape reality or daydream.
This has continued to decrease over time. I tend to stick more to the facts of a situation and how I can improve it than wistfully imagine that it will fix itself or that I will win the lottery.
Artistic Interests…… (69) — 71
I have high openness for art, music, culture and other aesthetic experiences.
This has been consistent over the years, especially my love of music, movies, good TV shows and reading.
Emotionality……… (89) — 90
My attunement to my own and others’ emotions are very high. Whereas cheerfulness and excitement seeking (facets of extraversion) capture my propensity to feel positive emotions and neuroticism capture my propensity to feel negative emotions, emotionality refers to my overall openness to/desire to truly feel emotions.
This has improved a lot since 2011, and regular mindfulness meditation has helped a lot.
Adventurousness…… (90) — 95
I prefer very high amounts of variety and new experiences in my life and have a very high openness to new experiences.
This has increased even more over the last 15 months and comes out in my love of travel, learning new things, and taking on new challenges.
Intellect…………… (90) — 89
My desire to play with ideas, reflect on philosophical concepts, and have deep discussions is very high.
I love to read widely and am willing to have interesting conversations about anything, even if they disagree with my viewpoint. Learning about different cultures and their different expectations and belief systems is especially interesting to me and something I look forward to doing more of in the future.
Liberalism………… (97) — 97
My political liberalism is extremely high, and my political conservatism is extremely low. I desire progressive change.
I fully believe that everyone should be free to live the right life for themselves as long as it doesn’t harm others. Therefore, I believe that governments should help guide people to make healthier choices but still allow them to do what they want.
Which Areas Changed the Most?
The two factors that changed the most were extraversion (26 percentile point increase) and neuroticism (16 percentile point decrease) over the past 15 months. The biggest facet changes for extraversion were an improvement in gregariousness (35 point increase), friendliness (30 points) and assertiveness (21 points). The biggest facet changes for neuroticism were a reduction in vulnerability (31 point decrease), self-consciousness (21 points) and anxiousness (19 points).
I also became less modest (27 point decrease), more self-disciplined (20 point increase), more self-efficacious (15 points), and more moral (14 points).
Which Areas Stayed the Same?
The other three factors barely changed, including Conscientiousness (a 4 point increase), Openness to Experience (a 2 point increase) and Agreeableness (a 1 point increase).
Only two facets didn’t change at all — co-operation and liberalism (both very high). Trust, dutifulness, anger, depression, imagination, emotionality, and intellect only changed one percentile point, and four other facets changed less than five percentile points.
In all, 18 facets changed less than 10 percentile points from 15 months ago, and 12 changed more than 10 percentile points.
What do I recommend?
If you have been trying to change something for a long time and haven’t been able to, maybe it is worth seeing if you can accept and embrace this quality about yourself, or if you can at least see some of the positives that come with it.
If there are things about yourself that you would like to improve, seek out people who seem to do these things well, and learn from them what you can. If you don’t have anyone in your life who represents these qualities, a book, Youtube and many other online resources are now available to help give you the skills, knowledge, motivation, perseverance and ongoing support that is required for successful long-term change.
I’ve either accepted or changed many things about myself over the past seven years and am now much happier with the person I am. I wish you all the same too.
Dr Damon Ashworth