The American Psychological Association states that as people get older, they may face cognitive changes such as memory problems and difficulties processing information. However, new research shows that efforts to improve these individuals’ cognition may actually lead to personality changes.
In a recent study, which appeared in the journal Psychology of Aging, researchers had individuals between the ages of 60 and 94 complete pattern-recognition and problem-solving puzzles and tasks, which they worked on at home and at their own pace. Upon completion of the tasks, study participants returned the materials they were given to the lab, and received more challenging ones in their place.
After some time, researchers not only saw improvement in participants’ pattern-recognition and problem-solving skills, but their personalities as well. As the challenges increased in difficulty, some individuals showed signs of greater openness.
"Growing confidence in their reasoning abilities possibly enabled greater enjoyment of intellectually challenging and creative endeavors," said Elizabeth Stine-Morrow, a University of Illinois educational psychology and Beckman Institute professor, who led the study.
If older individuals are curious to see if they have become more or less open with age, they can always take a personality test and find out.