Are the features of emerging adulthood developmentally distinctive? A comparison of ages 18–60 in the United States
A large national sample of adults ages 18–60 was surveyed on features proposed in the theory of emerging adulthood, including identity explorations, self-focus, feeling in-between, instability, and possibilities/optimism. Additional items were included on feeling that this time of life is a time of freedom and a time that is fun and exciting and on feelings of anxiety and depression. Emerging adults (ages 18–25) were more likely to endorse nearly all the items proposed in the theory of emerging adulthood, yet a surprisingly high proportion of adults in the older age groups (26–29, 30–39, and 40–60) also agreed that the items apply to their current time of life. Thus, the results indicate that the features proposed in the theory of emerging adulthood are more likely to be found among 18- to 25-year-olds than among people in older age groups, but they may not be as distinctive to emerging adulthood as the theory predicted.
Arnett, Jeffrey Jensen and Mitra, Deeya, "Are the features of emerging adulthood developmentally distinctive? A comparison of ages 18–60 in the United States" (2020). Psychology. 688.