Vocabulary skills in adulthood: longitudinal relations with cognitive and personality measures across the life-span



Year of publication 2016
Type Article in Periodical
Magazine / Source Ceskoslovenska Psychologie/Czechoslovak Psychology
Field Psychology
Keywords vocabulary; personality; life-span development; verbal IQ
Description Objectives. The data from Brno longitudinal study were used to examine the relations between receptive vocabulary in 50-year-olds and various cognitive and personality variables in earlier ages. Two questions were addressed in particular: 1) Is receptive vocabulary related to measures of verbal IQ in childhood, and 2) are vocabulary scores in adults related to their personality traits. Sample. The study used the sample from the Brno Longitudinal Study. This originally included about 500 participants who entered the study at birth between 1961 and 1963. In 2011, 76 of these participants were examined. Hypotheses. It was hypothesized that vocabulary performance at 50 will be related to measures of verbal IQ in childhood. With regard to the relation between vocabulary skills and personality, the general hypothesis was that such relations are possible, but no specific predictions were made. Analysis. Least squares regression analyses were used to examine the data, with the vocabulary score as the dependent variable. The analyses controlled for the relation between vocabulary and nonverbal intelligence by including nonverbal skills as one of predictors in the regression models. Results. Vocabulary scores in adulthood showed a robust relation with verbal intelligence at 12 years of age, but only marginally significant relation with verbal intelligence at 8 years. No personality measures showed robust relations with adult vocabulary, only NEO openness was weakly related to higher vocabulary. Some measures of neuroticism showed marginally significant relation with lower vocabulary. Conclusions. Even though vocabulary is an aspect of human knowledge that can change considerably during adulthood, it shows a strong relation with verbal skills in late childhood. Personality traits have rather limited effects on the change of vocabulary in adulthood.

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