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Volitional Personality Change Across 58 Countries


Recent research suggests that the majority of individuals residing in the US are currently trying to change an aspect of their personalities, and these attempts are related to current personality trait levels. Yet to be understood is how these trends vary within the US and across countries. The current dissertation investigated volitional personality change (VPC) in terms of who is trying to change and what exactly they are trying to change. With use of a custom-made website, 14,227 participants from six US states and 58 countries reported whether they were currently trying to their personality and provided open-ended descriptions of what they were trying to change. Results indicated that on average, 63.54% of individuals around the world report VPC. Furthermore, individuals who have high levels of negative emotionality and low levels of happiness report VPC. Countries with high employment rates and low self-reported health tend to have high proportions of VPC. Finally, there was a near uniform tendency across states and countries for individuals to report trying to change a undesirable aspects of their personalities (e.g., those with low levels of extraversion reported trying to increase levels of extraversion). These findings suggest that the majority of individuals across the United States and around the world report VPC attempts and that these attempts may be motivated by current low levels of socially desired traits and the subsequent desire towards self-improvement.

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