A group of Swiss researchers
has taken direct aim at trying to modify, in a digital intervention experiment with ~1,500 participants, the basic OCEAN personality traits : openness,conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. They developed the smartphone App PEACH (PErsonality coACH), which provides scalable communication capabilities using a digital agent that mimics a conversation with a human. The PEACH app also includes digital journaling, reminders of individual goals, video clips, opportunities for self-reflection and feedback on progress. Weekly core topics and small interventions aim to address and activate the desired changes and thus the development of personality traits. Their results challenge the commonn view that personality traits relatively stable and unchangeable. Here is the Stieger et al.abstract
Personality traits predict important life outcomes, such as success in love and work life, well-being, health, and longevity. Given these positive relations to important outcomes, economists, policy makers, and scientists have proposed intervening to change personality traits to promote positive life outcomes. However, nonclinical interventions to change personality traits are lacking so far in large-scale naturalistic populations. This study (n = 1,523) examined the effects of a 3-mo digital personality change intervention using a randomized controlled trial and the smartphone application PEACH (PErsonality coACH). Participants who received the intervention showed greater self-reported changes compared to participants in the waitlist control group who had to wait 1 mo before receiving the intervention. Self-reported changes aligned with intended goals for change and were significant for those desiring to increase on a trait (d = 0.52) and for those desiring to decrease on a trait (d = −0.58). Observers such as friends, family members, or intimate partners also detected significant personality changes in the desired direction for those desiring to increase on a trait (d = 0.35). Observer-reported changes for those desiring to decrease on a trait were not significant (d = −0.22). Moreover, self- and observer-reported changes persisted until 3 mo after the end of the intervention. This work provides the strongest evidence to date that normal personality traits can be changed through intervention in nonclinical samples.
Also, from the text of the article:
....most participants wanted to decrease in neuroticism (26.7%), increase in conscientiousness (26.1%), or increase in extraversion (24.6%). Other change goals were chosen less often. Of all participants, 7.4% wanted to increase in openness, 6.4% decrease in agreeableness, 4.1% increase in agreeableness, 2.6% decrease in conscientiousness, 1.8% decrease in openness, and 0.2% decrease in extraversion
Taken together, this research shows that people can actively change their personality traits in desired directions with the help of a digital intervention. The findings provide a challenge for the common misperception that because personality traits are relatively stable, they are therefore unchangeable. Provided that policy makers acknowledge the beneficial effects of personality interventions for the individual and the society as a whole, this digital intervention approach could easily be used as a low-cost and low-threshold prevention tool for a large number of people.
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