Stability over time of Big-5 personality traits in rural South India

As part of his doctoral thesis, Arnaud Natal analyses the stability of the Big-5 personality traits (openness to experience, extraversion, agreeableness, emotional stability, conscientiousness), using NEEMSIS-1 (2016-17) and NEEMSIS-2 (2020-21) datasets.

This research seeks to shed light on the stability of personality traits in developing countries. Indeed, in developed countries, many economists have assumed the stability over time of personality traits, which allows them to consider personality traits as exogenous variables, and thus avoid endogeneity problems. However, the literature in psychology is not so clear. For some researchers, traits are stable over time, for others they evolve. Little research has been conducted in developing countries, and none in India.

Using psychometric and econometric tools, the author finds that only 1/5 individuals are stable in terms of Emotional Stability traits between 2016-17 and 2020-21 (see graph below), and upper castes are overrepresented among stable individuals over time. Also, individuals who experienced the Indian 2016 demonetisation are more salient in terms of openness to experience and extraversion, while those surveyed after the second COVID-19 lockdown of April 2021 are more salient in terms of neuroticism compared to the others.

For more details on this ongoing research, please contact Arnaud Natal.


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