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A new review published in Nature Reviews Psychology offers guidance for individuals hoping to change their personalities. While personalities tend to remain stable over time, they are also somewhat malleable. The review identified four elements that can support or inhibit personality change: pre-conditions, triggers, reinforcers, and integrators. These mechanisms can help individuals establish new habits that may lead to gradual personality modifications.

Before embarking on a journey to change one’s personality, it is crucial to identify which aspects of one’s personality need to be changed and then uncover pre-conditions, triggers, reinforcers, and integrators that can support this change. It is recommended not to go through this process alone, as input from others who know you well can be valuable in helping you stay motivated. Dr. Carl Nassar emphasized the importance of setting up a support system that can serve as triggers and reinforcers as you work towards making personality changes.

Dr. Emily Moore suggested using the four mechanisms outlined in the review as a starting point for modifying one’s personality. By minimizing factors that reinforce personality stability and introducing conditions that align with desired changes, individuals can gradually shift towards the personality they aspire to have. The review recommends embracing the idea of “faking it till you make it” as a strategy to reduce anxiety and gradually embody a new version of themselves through practice and reinforcement.

The process of personality change is compared to mindfulness practice, where individuals consciously focus on their desired outcome and make intentional efforts to move in that direction. It is important to maintain autonomous motivation for making personality changes, rather than succumbing to external pressures. Research suggests that autonomous motivation is linked to progress in achieving personality change goals and ultimately leads to psychological well-being.

While life events can sometimes trigger positive changes in one’s personality, it is essential to actively support and maintain these changes over time. Dr. Moore advised individuals to reflect on what led to positive shifts in their personality and integrate them into their self-identity. By identifying supportive factors such as preconditions, triggers, reinforcers, and integrators, individuals can ensure that the positive changes brought about by life events are maintained and integrated into their daily lives.

Overall, the review provides a roadmap for individuals seeking to make modest changes to their personalities. By understanding the mechanisms that facilitate or hinder personality change, individuals can take proactive steps to gradually modify aspects of their personalities. With the support of a strong social network, autonomous motivation, and intentional efforts to maintain positive changes, individuals can embark on a journey towards a more fulfilling and authentic version of themselves.

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