But your physical appearance isn’t the only thing that changes as you age. You could also form an entirely new personality, according to a 63-year study published in the journal Psychology and Aging.
In 1950, researchers at the University of Edinburgh asked a group of 1,209 Scottish 14-year-olds to rate their personality, based on traits such as self-confidence, perseverance, moodiness, and curiosity. Then, 174 of the original subjects participated in a follow-up study in 2012, when they were 77 years old. Once again, the participants rated their personality traits, and a close friend or relative rated each participant, as well.
Despite using the same personality scale for both studies, the researchers found no relationship between the participants’ personality ratings at age 14 and age 77. In other words, the teens seemed to have formed entirely new personalities by the time they reached old age. And the longer the time interval, “the weaker the relationship between the two [selves] tends to be,” the researchers wrote. (By the way, this body part ages faster than the rest of you.)
While it may be hard to imagine being completely different in a few decades, the idea may not be as crazy as you think. Both late adolescence and old age are times of significant personality development and evolution, psychologists say.
There some significant drawbacks to the study, though. A larger subgroup of the original subjects, as well as a new assessment based on a more modern personality scale—one which was not developed in 1950, at the time of the original research—might yield different results.
Still, it’s good to stay tuned in to big changes as you age (and not just the physical ones!). Here’s another point to ponder: These are the two years when you’ll be the happiest, according to science.