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Personality Change in the Light of Relationship Transitions in Romantic Couples and Singles
Third-party funded project
Project title Personality Change in the Light of Relationship Transitions in Romantic Couples and Singles
Principal Investigator(s) Grob, Alexander
Project Members Gander, Fabian
Traut, Alex
Saameli, Marcelle
Uhlich, Maximiliane
Organisation / Research unit Departement Psychologie / Entwicklungs- und Persönlichkeitspsychologie (Grob)
Department Departement Psychologie / Entwicklungs- und Persönlichkeitspsychologie (Grob)
Project start 01.08.2021
Probable end 31.07.2025
Status Active
Abstract

Personality predicts the likelihood of starting and ending a relationship. Likewise, experiencing a relationship transition can impact personality change. However, most research examining personality change in the light of relationship transitions is based on annual measurement occasions, focuses on stable personality traits, and took no notice of the subjective experience of relationship transitions. Therefore, studying how personality changes unfold across relationship transitions not only in terms of persons’ traits but also in persons’ everyday experiences is the natural next step in understanding the developmental co-dynamics between personality and romantic relationships. Hence, we propose to study the role of personality in relationship transitions and identify the impacts of relationship transitions on personality changes, while comparing these changes to the development of individuals who experience no such transitions. In doing so, we also take into account not only the occurrence but also the perceived characteristics of relationship transitions to better understand individual differences in their impact on personality development. Based on evidence that personality changes are most pronounced in the third and fourth decade of life, we focus on young adulthood.

The proposed project builds upon our previous longitudinal projects on personality and relationships and expand the scope and impact of our research by addressing three novel and crucial questions: How does personality develop across relationship transitions at the trait, state, and situational levels in the everyday life of partnered and single individuals? How are these developments interrelated in the everyday life before and after relationship transitions? How do the perceived characteristics of relationship transitions contribute to the understanding of how relationship transitions are linked to personality and its development?

To answer our questions, we will study people’s everyday lives in different phases of their romantic lives using a measurement burst design. To that aim, an initial sample of 905 partnered and 905 single individuals will be recruited. We will capitalize on our previous two-year study of romantic relationships by retaining a subsample of partnered and single individuals who participated in that study (consent to re-contact already obtained). Over 2.5 years, participants will complete seven testing waves with surveys that will collect information about their stable personality traits, and with experience sampling including multiple short surveys per day that will collect information about their momentary personality states and their situational experiences. At each testing wave, we collect information on the occurrence of relationship transitions and their perceived characteristics.

With this design, we adopt a fine-tuned perspective on personality development in light of relationship transitions by capturing close-to-the-moment expressions of personality in situational contexts and considering the subjective experience of relationship transitions. This makes our project an optimal vehicle for providing new and unique evidence on how the developmental co-dynamics between personality and romantic relationships unfold in the everyday lives of partnered and single individuals—generating findings that will be of interest to personality, developmental, and relationship psychology, and relevant to the general public. Our considerable experience of running intensive longitudinal online studies of relationships, combined with the data we have already collected from a sample of couple members committed to our research program, speaks to the feasibility and timeliness of the project. Further, our study group and international collaborators have already capitalized on data of our projects with publications and pre-registered studies, and we think it likely that the interest in and utility of data from the proposed project will be similarly high.

Keywords Relationship outcomes, Personality development, Personality processes, Emerging and young adulthood, Relationship processes, Personality
Financed by Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF)
   

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21/06/2024