About

People may act very differently in the same situation. Some strike up conversations with strangers and can talk for hours, and others say little even in group of friends. Some are late to everything, and others are always early. Some love art or poetry, and others are much more interested in things they can see and touch. Some are very emotional, and others keep their feelings to themselves. There are hundreds of characteristics like these, and their combination makes each person unique. Altogether, these characteristics are known as personality, and study of personality is one of the most important topics in psychology. 

The goal of this project is to learn how personality traits develop. Adolescence is a time of big changes in personality. To understand why this happens, we are looking at biology, such as changes in hormones and brain activity. We are also looking at influence of the environment, including teens’ social lives, academics, and family relationships. 

Some personality characteristics are linked to emotional well-being. Emotional lives of teenagers also change dramatically during adolescence, and psychologists believe that personality plays a role in that. To understand this link, we are also looking at changes in emotions and their interactions with personality development.

We are inviting adolescent girls (ages 13 ½ to 15 ½) and their parents to help with this project. It involves three visits to the Stony Brook University campus over three years. Participation of parents is key for this project, because parents have a unique perspective on their child’s personality. For this reason, we are also asking one biological parent to come to campus visits. In addition, we will do two check-ins with the teen on the phone and internet between the visits. Altogether 600 families from Long Island will participate in the project.

This research will not only contribute to science, but also will suggest new ways of supporting and encouraging positive growth of personality and emotions. This information can help psychologists to provide better guidance to teens and their families in the future. It also can help educators to tailor their classes to adolescents and design better school programs.

The ADEPT project is directed by Drs. Roman Kotov and Daniel Klein, who are faculty at Stony Brook University. It is supported by a grant from the National Institute of Health (NIH).