Rank order stability is the maintenance of individual position within a group. Between ages 14 and 20, most people become taller , but the rank order of heights tends to remain fairly stable because this form of development affects all people pretty much the same, adding a few inches to everyone. The tall people at 14 fall generally toward the tall end of the distribution at age 20. The same can apply to personality traits. If people tend to maintain their positions on dominance or extraversion relative to the other members of their group over time, then there is high rank order stability
To illustrate the phrase "Some things change; some things stay the same," consider the period just before high school (your middle school years) and compare that with the period just after high school—typically, your college years. Identify three characteristics that have changed noticeably during that period. These characteristics might be your interests, your attitudes, your values, and what you like to do with your time. Then list three characteristics about you that have not changed. Again, these characteristics could reflect certain traits of your personality, your interests, your values, or even your attitudes about various topics. Write them down in the following format:
What I was like What I was like in middle school: after high school:
Characteristics that 1.__1.
Characteristics that 1.
have not changed 2.
to that personality characteristic. Conversely , if people fail to maintain their rank order—if the submissive folks rise up and put down the dominants, for example— then the group is displaying rank order instability , or rank order change.
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