CogniFit's Science blog: Personality Change May Be Inevitable When Enhancing Cognition In Adulthood

Personality Change May Be Inevitable When Enhancing Cognition In Adulthood

Enhancing one’s cognition is something many would welcome in a heartbeat, but is it something you would consider knowing it could change your personality? A new program is capable of boosting older adults’ cognition while increasing their openness to new experiences. And as a result, it can actually change a personality trait that has long been thought to be fixed throughout life.

Personality psychologists have long described openness as one of the five major personality traits we as humans possess. The other four traits consist of agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism and extraversion. Each of these supposedly operates independently of a person’s cognitive abilities, but not openness.

Openness on the other hand is correlated with cognitive abilities. The word itself is described as being flexible, creative, welcoming new ideas and being open to change and challenges. With the study that was published in Psychology and Aging, adults ranging from 60 to 94 years were given a series of pattern-recognition and problem-solving tasks and puzzles.

Each participant worked at their own pace and were given harder tasks each week. This was a crucial component to increase openness. By enhancing their confidence in reasoning abilities, they showed greater enjoyment.

Cognitive abilities and personality traits were tested for the 183 adults that were randomly assigned to either an experimental group or those who participated in cognition intervention. By the end of the program, those who engaged in the brain training and practice sessions saw improvement in their pattern-recognition and problem-solving skills while the control group did not.

So what does this ultimately display? It found that personality can in fact change once someone reaches adulthood. A number of models have and continue to contend that personality does not change after the age of 20 or 30. Once you reach adulthood, you are who you are.

This new study certainly does not put that belief to shame as there is a lot of truth to that statement. A lot of who you are at the age of 30 is who you will be for the rest of your life…it is all you know. But at the same time, this study shows cognition changes and personality traits altering in a set of individuals that were on average 75 years old.

With that, it at least opens discussion for the thought that personalities can change over time. Only time and further studies will prove otherwise. So think twice before you begin increasing your cognition as it may lead to a new you.