People’s life goals relate to their personality

People's goals are consistent with their personality traits. Furthermore, these same goals may lead to subsequent personality changes.

People’s life goals relate to their personality
People’s life goals relate to their personality

by UC Davis

Main titles

  • Goal categories: aesthetic goals (being artistic and creative), economic goals (having a successful career and being wealthy), family goals (marriage and children), hedonistic goals (fun and pleasure), political goals (public affairs), and social goals (helping others.)

“This study was a unique opportunity to examine how individuals’ personalities and major life goals were related to each other across two decades of life. We found that, in many ways, one’s personality shapes the types of life goals that are valued, and as a result of pursuing those goals, personality changes.” - Olivia E. Atherton, UC Davis. 

  • Albert Einstein was creative, curious, and intellectual, and these traits may explain both the scientific and aesthetic goals that he pursued.


  • The 'Big Five' personality traits examined in the study include neuroticism, extraversion, openness to experience, agreeableness, and conscientiousness.
  • These broad personality traits were examined alongside the goal categories listed above.

“We found that, on average, individuals increased in agreeableness and conscientiousness, decreased in neuroticism, and showed little change in openness to experience and extraversion from age 18 to 40,” - researchers.

  • People who become more agreeable tend to emphasize social and family goal development, while people who become more responsible and organized tend to emphasize economic and family goal development.

Source: University of California, Davis