The passage of time leaves a deep imprint on all of us. Aging seems to make many people sad. Recent research has found out how the four dimensions of personality evolve over time and how many people actually get better. Surprisingly, researchers also found that in more cases, despair dissipates with age.
The four dimensions of personality that the researchers focused on are productivity, stagnation, self-integrity, and despair. These are derived from Erik Erikson’s theory of personality and refer to the two extremes of the eight psychosocial stages. The two psychosocial stages in question correspond to the last stages of life.
You have to face a series of conflicts at every stage of your life to develop spiritually. At the age of 40-60, the conflict occurs between stagnation and productivity. My integrity and despair, in turn, date back to the age of 60 .
In this article, we will take a closer look at the specific features of each personality dimension. We also briefly review the findings that a group of psychologists led by Nicky J. Newton and Elisabeth A. Vanderwater came up with in their fascinating study, published in the Journal of Research in Personality .
Productivity and stagnation
Productivity is the dimension of personality that is related to the degree of active participation to build a better future. This dimension develops understanding and consideration for others. It will help you look deeper into the surface and dig into the heart of the problem, after which you will be able to offer advice that springs from wisdom and understanding gained over time.
Stagnation, in turn, refers to a lack of personal growth or the underdevelopment of productive skills. It is characterized by a low ability to tolerate frustration and uncertainty. If you have stopped, you will not be able to deal with things that require complex analysis.
My integrity and despair
Self integrity means the ability to bounce back up from awkward situations. In other words, it refers to perseverance. Self-integrity is illustrated by a sense of satisfaction with one’s own life, which is the foundation of good self-control.
Despair, in turn, is related to a lack of self integrity. It involves feelings of despair as well as the idea that one’s own life is completely meaningless. Despair makes a person hostile to other people and situations he does not understand.
Content and results of the study
166 women, ranging in age from 43 to 72, participated in the study. The study included four phases spanning a period of 28 years (1986-2014). During that time, scholars followed the development of the four personality dimensions mentioned above.
The research results showed a consistent increase in the incidence of performance and self integrity at the age of 42-70 years. Stagnation, in turn, peaked at about age 60 and then began to decline.
Lastly, it was stated that despair is the first dimension to reach its peak. The highest levels appear at about 50 years of age, but then fall radically during 60-70 years of age.
Feelings of despair
Research has shown that despair dissipates with age as positive emotions become stronger. During the last years of life of the study participants, feelings of despair dissipated as a result of the strengthening of self integrity .
The state of stagnation also declined significantly while productivity and uncompromisingness remained unchanged or even increased over time. Scholars believe that this decrease in stagnation is also related to a new kind of personal development initiated by self-integrity.
In conclusion, we would like to say that the results bring a lot of hope. It would appear that a good ability to resolve conflicts in the later stages of life could bring about a significant reduction in despair as well as significantly increase the positive dimensions of personality. Therefore, it is wiser to face the challenges of middle age with an enthusiastic and open mind. If the findings of this study are correct, you will be active and more persistent in your later years of life.