Research on Young Adults

Latest read for those interested in the study of generations or young adult ministry: Jean M. Twenge, Generation Me: Why Today’s Young Americans Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled–and More Miserable Than Ever Before.

There have been many books written about generations, most famous being those by Neil Howe and Bill Strauss, but Jean Twenge (Associate Professor of Psychology at San Diego State) claims to be the first social scientist to conduct a rather basic kind of study: looking at various studies that have been done across many years of college students and other young adults and compare the attitudes of young adults today with those of earlier generations at the same age.

This book presents, for the first time, the results of twelve studies on generational differences, based on data from 1.3 million young Americans. Many of the studies find that when you were born has more influence on your personality than the family who raised you.

Other books, she says (including Howe and Strauss) relied more on hunches and wishful thinking. One major conflict in conclusions–where they think the Millennials will be another “Greatest Generation,” she finds them to be self-absorbed, addicted to self-esteem, pampered by parents and schools–and that they suffer a major let down, becoming cynical, when they find real life isn’t like that.

Strauss and Howe strike back, pointing to other kinds of statistics.