There’s a new smartphone app that could help change personality traits you don’t like within 90 days. A study on pnas.org reviewed how the use of smartphone application PEACH influenced major personality traits of openness, conscientiousness, sociability, considerateness, and emotional vulnerability.
Researchers reported that friends and family members noticed a change in the increased expression of a trait for app users; not a decrease. But can an app truly change personality traits?
“The short answer to your question is 'no',” said Professor Thomas G. Plante, Ph.D., ABPP, with Santa Clara University. “Personality is enduring and about essential character traits that unfold due to entrenched biopsychosocial factors. Traits don't change very easily at all even after years of psychotherapy and other intensive interventions. An app might change how you self report, but without compelling research based on long-term randomized clinical trials, it is hard to believe that changing personality via an app is possible.”
Yet others believe it is possible for personality to change with an app. Robert Johnson is the founder of Sawinery and describes himself as a heavy app user. “I believe that some of my undesirable traits have improved through app use,” said Johnson. “For years, I have struggled with my low emotional quotient and emotional discipline. However, I am now able to take control of my emotions. You can leave me in a room full of my favorite foods without me touching anything before you come back. That was very different before I used this app. My experience shows that personality traits have a high plasticity and can be molded to the form we want.”
But Author Girish Shukla tends to agree with Plante, “Personality traits develop over a number of years and that’s why it seems unlikely that an app claims that it can change your personality. People use personality and behaviour interchangeably in a conversation but they are extremely different. Behaviour in general is expressed through a person’s actions and how a person reacts to other individuals. Personality refers to a person’s innate characteristics like emotions and cognitions that evolved through a combination of genetic and environmental factors.” Caroline Lee, co-founder of CocoSign adds, “Personality is something to be while behavior is what we do. Personalities are described in terms of traits, which are nearly enduring characteristics that affect our behavior over many situations."
While acknowledging behaviors and personality are not the same, Carla Diaz, co-founder of Broadband Search, notes “The gap between changing behaviors and using apps to adopt new personality traits isn’t that large, so I think it’s possible up to a point”. But she doesn’t think an app could change a personality completely, She adds, “Personality is very complex and is built up over many years due to multiple different factors. While using an app might help you to learn new traits, it isn’t going to completely change something so complex.”
However one defines change, many do see a benefit of using an app. “Apps created for the purpose of helping you with things such as mental health, well being, and self care can be a starting point to help change your personality. This isn't to say you should expect an overhaul of who you are, but they are made to teach you ways to live your best possible life. This could result in some changes to your personality that naturally develop alongside your new self care and mental health routine,” said consultant Alex Magnin.
“Wellness apps provide tips, tools and training to help you improve, which could bring minor personality adjustments. It is still about the effort you put in yourself, and the app acts as a guide, much like a fitness training app doesn't change your body, but provides the tools that can help you work on it. At the end of the day though, it comes down to you.”, concluded Vincent DeCastro, president of ABM Agency.