Personality traits change from childhood through late-adolescence, however the effects of social expectations and self-regulatory efforts remain unknown. This study aims to explore mechanisms underlying personality development by assessing mean levels personality traits from childhood to late-adolescence.
We used Common-Language California Child Q-Set to measure youths’ (N = 11,000) mean personality trait levels; social expectations for these traits as perceived by parents (N = 47), teachers (N = 42) and students (N = 120); and self-regulatory efforts required for achieving the desired levels in these traits as perceived by parents (N = 27), teachers (N = 26), and students (N = 54).
Expectations for youths’ traits were consistent, regardless of raters’ or youths’ age. In our unique between-trait study design, traits’ mean levels were positively associated with expectations for them, but age differences minimally tracked these expectations. Traits’ required self-regulatory efforts were not associated with their developmental trends.
Results were only partially consistent with existing developmental theories of personality development.