looking out from a cave

Social Investment

The personality trait framework is central to the active and growing field of personality development (Lodi-Smith, Turiano, & Mroczek, 2012). My program of research within this framework focuses on the development and importance of traits in older adulthood, specifically, the social investment theory of personality development and the role of personality traits in optimal aging. The social investment theory of personality development posits that the interpersonal commitments adults make to specific roles within social institutions such as jobs, families, religious organizations, and service groups are essential determinants of personality change and consistency in adulthood (Lodi-Smith & Roberts, 2007; Lodi-Smith & Roberts, 2012; Roberts, Wood, & Lodi-Smith, 2006). Social investment is particularly important for trait maturation, the normative increases consistently seen in agreeableness, conscientiousness, and emotional stability throughout adulthood (Roberts, Walton, & Viechtbauer, 2006). My meta-analytic work demonstrates that social investments in adulthood are cross-sectionally related to these traits (Lodi-Smith & Roberts, 2007). A central component of my work extends social investment theory into the context of aging. For example, I demonstrate that, while individuals normatively decline in conscientiousness in older adulthood (Lucas & Donnellan, 2011), a pattern linked to worsening health (Turiano et al., 2012), social investment in older adulthood can serve as a buffer against these potentially harmful declines and may facilitate increases in trait maturation over time (Lodi-Smith & Roberts, 2012).

Relevant Publications:

  • Lodi-Smith, J. & Roberts, B.W. (2012). Concurrent and prospective relationships between social engagement and personality traits in older adulthood. Psychology and Aging, 27, 720 – 727.
  • Hudson, N.W., Roberts, B.W., & Lodi-Smith, J. (2012). Personality trait development and social investment in work. Journal of Research in Personality, 46, 334 – 344.
  • Lodi-Smith, J. & Roberts, B.W. (2007). Social investment and personality: A meta-analysis of the relationship of personality traits to investment in work, family, religion, and volunteerism. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 11, 68-86. ​- Roberts, B. W., Wood, D., Smith, J. (2005). Evaluating Five Factor Theory and social investment perspectives on personality trait development. Journal of Research in Personality, 39, 166-184.