2019-09-28Zeitschriftenartikel DOI: 10.18452/23688
Till death do us part: Transactions between losing one’s spouse and the Big Five personality traits
Objective Although losing one's spouse is one of the worst experiences that can occur in life, it has not been resolved yet how this experience relates to personality development. Method In the German Socio-Economic Panel study, information on the death of a spouse was assessed yearly from 1985 to 2017 and personality was measured repeatedly in 2005, 2009, 2013, and 2017 with a short version of the Big Five Inventory. We used multilevel analyses to simultaneously model whether personality differed between individuals who did or did not lose their spouse and whether personality changed prior to and after this experience. Results Compared to controls without the event, individuals who lost their spouse at a later point of time were more conscientious (β = .21) and more extraverted (β = .17). They became gradually more extraverted in the three years prior to the event (β = .25), but were less extraverted thereafter (β =−.27). Moreover, they gradually increased in Emotional Stability in the three years after this experience (β = .30). These changes were primarily driven by women and middle-aged individuals. Men whose spouse died were less open in the first year after the event (β =−.47). Conclusions Losing one's spouse relates to changes in Extraversion and Emotional Stability, especially in women and middle-aged adults.
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