Does divorce change your personality? Examining the effect of divorce occurrence on the Big Five personality traits using panel surveys from three countries

Publication type

Journal Article


Publication date

March 15, 2021


Experiencing a divorce can be challenging and have a lasting impact on people's lives, but does it change your personality? By making use of large panel surveys from Australia, Germany, and the United Kingdom, intra-individual change in the Big Five personality traits of those who separated during a four-year observation, was compared to that of those who remained married. We tested the replicability of divorce-induced personality change across the three country samples, while also examining gender differences and separation duration. Latent difference score models mostly indicated that divorce is not a consistent predictor of personality change, as only isolated effects were found, and these could not be replicated across samples. Aside from the overall lack of replicable effects a few isolated effects were detected that offer some support for a modified version of the social investment principle. Nonetheless, the overall finding of this study suggests that experiencing a divorce is unlikely to lead to permanent personality change.

Published in

Personality and Individual Differences


Volume: 171:110428









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