For example, it is possible to investigate whether the average 40-year-old adult has a lower (or higher) level of stress reaction than the average 20-year-old.
The answer to this question would tell researchers something about typical patterns of personality development.
Researchers make further distinctions between absolute stability and differential stability when considering homotypic stability.
When considering personality stability, researchers can think of it at the individual level (e.g., how is 18-year-old you different than 38-year-old you?
Something frustrating happens when you attempt to learn about personality stability: As with many topics in psychology, there are a number of different ways to conceptualize and quantify personality stability (e.g., Caspi & Bem, 1990; Roberts, Wood, & Caspi, 2008).
This means there are multiple ways to consider questions about personality stability.(You may already know that the prefix “hetero” means something like “different” in Greek.) Shyness is a good example of such an attribute because shyness is expressed differently by toddlers and young children than adults.The shy toddler might cling to a caregiver in a crowded setting and burst into tears when separated from this caregiver.Nonetheless, the important point is that the patterns of behavior observed in childhood sometimes foreshadow adult personality attributes.Homotypic stability concerns the amount of similarity in the same observable personality characteristics across time.The observable behaviors typically associated with shyness “look” different at different ages.Researchers can study heterotypic continuity only once they have a theory that specifies the different behavioral manifestations of the psychological attribute at different points in the lifespan.I will also draw your attention to the important concept of individual differences in personality development.Heterotypic stability refers to the psychological coherence of an individual’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors across development.This module describes different ways to address questions about personality stability across the lifespan.Definitions of the major types of personality stability are provided, and evidence concerning the different kinds of stability and change are reviewed.