Personality traits such as meticulousness or ability to socialize, think and decide are patterns of experience and behavior that can change over the course of our lives. Individual change often occurs slowly as people gradually adapt to the demands of society and their environment. However, researchers from the Universities of Zurich, St. Gallen, Brandeis, Illinois and the ETH Zurich can also examine certain personality traits with a digital intervention. In their study, around 1,500 participants received a specially developed smartphone app for three months. The researchers then assessed whether and how their personality had changed. The five most important personality traits were examined: openness, conscientiousness, sociability (extraversion), thoughtfulness (friendliness) and emotional vulnerability (neuroticism). The application included elements of knowledge transfer, behavior and resources, activation, self-reflection and feedback on progress. All communication with the coach and the companion was carried out virtually. The chat bot supported the participants every day in creating the desired changes.
Most of the participants said they wanted to reduce their emotional vulnerability, raise their awareness, or increase their extraversion. Those who participated in the intervention for more than three months reported greater success in achieving their change goals than the control group who participated for close friends and family. They also observed changes in participants who wanted to increase the expression of a certain personality trait. However, a little chang was noticed among those who wanted to reduce the expression of a trait. Consisted mainly of those participants who wanted to become less emotionally vulnerable, an internal process that is less externally observable. Both the participants and their friends reported that even after end of the three months intervention, personality changes due to the use of the application continued as said by Mathias Allemand, Professor of Psychology at UZH. These surprising results show that we are not only slaves to our personalities, but that we can make targeted changes to routine experiences and behavioral patterns.