Year

2017

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Clinical Psychology)

Department

School of Psychology

Abstract

The current thesis contains a series of papers which explored intentional personality change. The first paper explored what aspects of personality people want to change and what are the personality characteristics of those who want to change their personality. This study utilised data gathered during Martin, Oades and Caputi’s (2014a) randomised waitlist controlled trial of their intentional personality change coaching program (Martin, Oades & Caputi, 2014b). The results of the study indicated that the personality domains that people most wanted to change were neuroticism and conscientiousness and the sub-domains (facets) were anxiety, self-discipline, anger/hostility, depression and self-consciousness. Participants in the study were significantly higher in neuroticism and openness than the general population.

The second study explored what domains of personality had been changed via the intervention conducted by Martin et al. (2014a) and whether these changes were dependent on those aspects of personality being targeted for change. The findings of the study indicated that participants experienced significant increases in extraversion and conscientiousness and significant decreases in neuroticism over the 10 week coaching program. These changes were maintained three month post-intervention. Targeting of facets within the domain was significantly related to change for the domain of conscientiousness and neuroticism but not for extraversion.

The third paper was a review of the literature informing the development of personality change resources, followed by a more specific review exploring personality change resource development for the domain of conscientiousness. The paper argued for the utilisation of change processes which have been found to be effective in psychotherapy to be combined with the limited intentional personality change intervention literature in developing future personality change resources. The paper also argued that the clinical literature could be used to help inform techniques for changing specific domains. It was argued that the theoretical similarities between low conscientiousness and ADHD suggested that adult ADHD treatment programs may be a useful source of resources to utilise in the development of programs to increase conscientiousness.

The final paper described the results of a group program designed to change conscientiousness. The results of the program indicated that conscientiousness and extraversion significantly increased and neuroticism significantly decreased over the 10 week intervention. These changes were maintained 3 months post-intervention. The results were supported by changes in peer ratings for conscientiousness, extraversion and neuroticism. The program also resulted in a decrease in stress, depression and negative affect and an increase in positive affect, life satisfaction and occupational self-efficacy.

Consequently, this thesis provides evidence informing the characteristics of individuals who wish to change their personality, what aspects of their personality they wish to change and how this change might be achieved. Finally, it provides evidence that personality can be changed via specific targeted intervention and that these changes extend beyond personality into positive changes in life outcomes.

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