Is it possible to modify your personality without the intervention of a trained psychologist? According to new research, it’s easier than you think to retrain your brain and address personality concerns, and it’s at your fingertips.
Research published by the University of Zurich finds that digital intervention to strengthen desirable personality traits and lessen unwanted traits can be accomplished in as little as three months. Virtual support through an app and a chatbot from the smartphone app PEACH proved successful for over 1,500 participants.
The study focused on personality traits such as extraversion, neuroticism, considerateness, openness, and conscientiousness. Most participants wanted to reduce the neuroticism and extraversion and amplify their innate personality strengths such as considerateness. The researchers also interviewed the family and close friends of the participants to determine if any changes were noticeable to them.
When it was a negative personality trait that the participants were working on through the app, it resulted in very little admittance that change had occurred from the people around them. Since many of these changes were based on inner changes, it’s not surprising that some of the changes were less obvious, if at all noticeable.
However, the friends and family agreed that three months was the magic number for the changes that they did notice to become permanent (two months did not have the same effect). The PEACH app helped participants through journaling and self-reflection while providing educational and motivational videos, reminders, and feedback at the touch of a button.
The researchers are hoping that apps like these will be used for the general public in the future and will be part of the self-help apps we’ve come to appreciate, earning them a spot alongside other self-improvement apps (such as meditation apps).
Mirjam Stieger, Christoph Flückiger, Dominik Rüegger, et al. Changing personality traits with the help of a digital personality change intervention. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2021; 118 (8): e2017548118 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2017548118