Personality Development at the Midlife Transition

DFG Project by Marcus Mund & Franz J. Neyer

The Project

We continue an ongoing longitudinal study on personality development over a 15-years period covering emerging/young adulthood and the transition to middle adulthood (mean age of participants at the 4 measurement occasions: 24, 29, 33, and 40, SD ≈ 3,8). Thus far we have shown the impact of personality on the choice of particular life forms and the development of close relationships such as with romantic partners (Lehnart & Neyer, 2006; Neyer, 1999, 1998). It was also demonstrated that personality maturation in young adulthood was moderated by the transition to a first serious partner relationship (Neyer & Asendorpf, 2001; Neyer & Lehnart, 2007; Lehnart, Neyer, & Eccles, 2010). We now expect to be able to make long-term predictions of personality and relationship development from young to middle adulthood. In particular, we will study the antecedents and consequences of transitions and life experiences in the domains of partnership (e.g. stability, separation, divorce, and partner change), family (e.g. challenges of a sandwich position) and work (e.g. demands of mobility and work family balance). Results are expected to deepen our understanding of personality development in times of accelerated social change.


Lehnart, J. & Neyer, F. J. (2006). Should I stay or should I go? Personality-attachment transaction in stable and instable romantic relationships. European Journal of Personality, 20, 475-495.

Lehnart, J., Neyer, F. J. & Eccles, J. (2010). Long-term effects of social investment: The case of partnering in young adulthood. Journal of Personality, 78(2), 639-669.

Mund, M.*, Finn, C.*, Hagemeyer, B., Zimmermann, J., & Neyer, F. J. (2015). The dynamics of self-esteem in partner relationships. European Journal of Personality, 29, 235-249. doi: 10.1002/per.1984External link (*Marcus Mund and Christine Finn contributed equally to this work.)

Mund, M. & Neyer, F. J. (2014). Treating personality-relationship transactions with respect: Narrow facets, advanced models, and extended time frames. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 107, 352-368. doi: 10.1037/a0036719External link

Mund, M. & Neyer, F. J. (2016). The winding paths of the lonesome cowboy: Evidence for mutual influences between personality, subjective health, and loneliness. Journal of Personality, 84, 646-657. doi: 10.1111/jopy.12188External link

Neyer, F. J. (1999). Die Persönlichkeit junger Erwachsener in verschiedenen Lebensformen. Kölner Zeitschrift für Soziologie und Sozialpsychologie, 51, 491-508.

Neyer, F. J. & Asendorpf, J. B. (2001). Personality relationship transaction in young adulthood. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 81, 1190-1204

Neyer, F. J. & Lehnart, J. (2007). Relationships matter in personality development: Evidence from an 8-year longitudinal study across young adulthood. Journal of Personality, 75, 535-568.

van de Schoot, R., Kaplan, D., Denissen, J. J. A., Asendorpf, J. B., Neyer, F. J., & van Aken, M. A. G. (in press). A gentle introduction to Bayesian analysis: Applications to developmental research. Child Development, 85, 842-860. doi: 10.1111/cdev.12169

Wagner, J., Lang, F. R., Neyer, F. J. & Wagner, G. G. (in press). Self-Esteem Across Adulthood: The Role of Resources. European Journal of Ageing. doi: 10.1007/s10433-013-0299-z