What Is the Stability Versus Change Debate in Psychology?

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The debate in psychology over stability versus change centers on the permanence of initial personality traits. Some developmental psychologists argue that personality traits seen in infancy persist through a person’s entire life, while others disagree.

Support for the permanence of initial personality traits is largely rooted in the work of Sigmund Freud, who argued that personality traits that manifest in the first five years can predict traits of the adult personality. Change theorists believe that adult personalities are gradually shaped by interactions with others as well as cultural experiences, and they can change over time. A number of change theories center on stages of development that must be completed before the next can begin.