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Can Personality Traits Increase the Risk of Divorce?

Copyright: tomertu

What influence do personality traits have on divorce? And how do their effects change over time? Diederik Boertien and Dimitri Mortelmans use the psychological concept of "The Big Five" to understand the association between personality and divorce in Britain, Germany and Flanders. They determined individuals’ "Big Five" personality traits (agreeableness, conscientiousness, extraversion, neuroticism and openness to experience) using three questions for each trait based on seven-point scales ranging from "Do not agree at all" to "Fully agree".

Using the British Household Panel Survey, the German Socio-Economic Panel and the Divorce in Flanders survey, the authors concentrate on marriages formed between 1972 and 2009. Their findings suggest that extraversion, neuroticism and openness to experience can increase the risk to divorce. These associations are similar across countries and remain steady in their influence or weaken over time.

In terms of future trends, the authors suggest that personality characteristics associated with the way individuals relate to society, for example, measured by openness to experience, are likely to wane over time as the social stigma around divorce is decreasing. The personal situation of a couple, influenced by personality traits like agreeableness, conscientiousness or neuroticism, tends to stay equally important to the risk to divorce.

 

Original Article: Boertien, Diederik, Mortelmans, Dimitri (2017): Does the relationship between personality and divorce change over time? A cross-country comparison of marriage cohorts. Acta Sociologica: 1-17.