Welcome to the homepage of the Colby Personality Lab, directed by Chris Soto. The CPL conducts research examining three key issues. The first is personality structure: how people’s specific thoughts, feelings, and behaviors cohere into broader personality traits that persist over time and across relevant situations. I am especially interested in questions about whether, how, and why people’s personalities might be organized differently at different times of life, or in different social contexts. For example, are personality traits organized in similar or different ways during childhood versus adulthood?

The second issue is lifespan personality development: when, how, and why people’s personalities change as they age. I am curious both about how people’s personalities typically change across the life span (normative change) and about why different people’s personalities change in different ways (individual differences in change).

The third issue is personality and life outcomes: how someone’s personality helps shape the course of their life. I am particularly interested in understanding how personality characteristics influence (a) subjective well-being (i.e., how happy or unhappy someone is with their life), and (b) political attitudes.

Lab Director

soto_200Christopher J. Soto

I took a personality test for the first time as a junior in high school, and have been hooked on personality psychology ever since. I received my A.B. in Psychology from Harvard University and my Ph.D. in Social and Personality Psychology from the University of California, Berkeley. Since arriving at Colby in 2009, I’ve enjoyed teaching courses about personality psychology, research methods, and statistics, working with motivated young researchers, and exploring Maine.


Research Assistants

kronauer_200Anna Kronauer ’16

I’m a sophomore from Lake Forest, Illinois majoring in psychology and mathematical sciences. I am interested in personality development and how we are able to effectively measure certain personality traits. I’m also very intrigued by how these particular traits are linked to psychiatric disorders. The brain and its role in governing personality fascinate me as well. In addition, I’m curious as to how life experiences can shape personality, and I would like to learn more about how personality changes as we age.

liang_200Josephine Liang ’14

I’m a senior from Hong Kong, majoring in Psychology, minoring in Film Studies and currently on the Pred-Health path. I am interested in child development, especially concerning topics such as developmental issues in children with long-term diseases who are required to stay in the hospital for an extended period of time. I would like to study different ways that help in developing personality in such children, such as communication between hospital personnel and patients, hospital schools, medical clowns and animal doctors.  I would like to learn about how personality develops over time, and various factors that mold a child’s personality, especially children with speech deficiency and autism.

Lab Alumni

Lindsay Hylek ’12
Shelley Kind ’13
Christi Lumbert ’10
Kayleigh Monahan ’13
Matt Smith ’11
Adam Thompson ’13
Cale Wardell ’13

Chris Soto’s complete CV is available here


Soto, C. J. (in press). Is happiness good for your personality? Concurrent and prospective relations of the Big Five with subjective well-being. Journal of Personality

Soto, C. J. & John, O. P. (in press). Traits in transition: The structure of parent-reported personality traits from early childhood to early adulthood. Journal of Personality

Soto, C. J., Liang, J. K., & Kronauer, A. (in press). Five-factor model of personality. Encyclopedia of Adulthood and Aging. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley. 

Malka, A., & Soto, C. J. (in press). How encompassing is the effect of negativity bias on political conservatism? Brain and Behavioral Sciences. 

Malka, A., Soto, C. J., Inzlicht, M., & Lelkes, Y. (in press). Do dispositional needs for security and certainty predict cultural and economic conservatism? A cross-national analysis. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology

Soto, C. J., & Jackson, J. J. (2013). Five-factor model of personality. In D. S. Dunn (Ed.), Oxford Bibliographies in Psychology. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. 

Soto, C. J. & Luhmann, M. (2013). Who can buy happiness? Personality traits moderate the effects of stable income differences and income fluctuations on life satisfaction. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 4, 46-53. 

Soto, C. J., & John, O. P. (2012). Development of Big-Five domains and facets in adulthood: Mean-level age trends and broadly versus narrowly acting mechanisms. Journal of Personality, 80, 881-914. 

Malka, A., & Soto, C. J. (2011). The conflicting influences of religiosity on attitude toward torture.Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 37, 1091-1103. 

Malka, A., Soto, C. J., Cohen, A. B., & Miller, D. T. (2011). Religiosity and social welfare: Competing influences of cultural conservatism and prosocial value orientation. Journal of Personality, 79, 763-792. 

Soto, C. J., John, O. P., Gosling, S. D., & Potter, J. (2011). Age differences in personality traits from 10 to 65: Big-Five domains and facets in a large cross-sectional sample. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 100, 330-348. 

Orth, U., Robins, R. W., & Soto, C. J. (2010). Tracking the trajectory of shame, guilt, and pride across the life span. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 99, 1061-1071. 

Soto, C. J., & John, O. P. (2009). Ten facet scales for the Big Five Inventory: Convergence with NEO PI-R facets, self-peer agreement, and discriminant validity. Journal of Research in Personality, 43, 84-90. 

Soto, C. J., & John, O. P. (2009). Using the California Psychological Inventory to assess the Big Five personality domains: A hierarchical approach. Journal of Research in Personality, 43, 25-38. 

John, O. P., Naumann, L., & Soto, C. J. (2008). Paradigm shift to the integrative Big Five trait taxonomy: History, measurement, and conceptual issues. In O. P. John, R. W. Robins, & L. A. Pervin (Eds.), Handbook of personality: Theory and research (3rd ed., pp. 114-158). New York, NY: Guilford. 

Soto, C. J., John, O. P., Gosling, S. D., & Potter, J. (2008). The developmental psychometrics of Big Five self-reports: Acquiescence, factor structure, coherence, and differentiation from ages 10 to 20. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 94, 718-737. 

John, O. P., & Soto, C. J. (2007). The importance of being valid: Reliability and the process of construct validation. In R. W. Robins, R. C. Fraley, & R. F. Krueger (Eds.), Handbook of research methods in personality psychology (pp. 461-494). New York, NY: Cambridge University Press. 

Helson, R., Soto, C. J., & Cate, R. A. (2006). From young adulthood through the middle ages. In D. K. Mroczek & T. D. Little (Eds.), Handbook of personality development (pp. 337-352). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum. 

Helson, R., & Soto, C. J. (2005). Up and down in middle age: Monotonic and nonmonotonic changes in roles, status, and personality. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 89, 194-204.