Young people's conceptions of the transition to adulthood
Conceptions of the transition to adulthood were examined using data from 346 college students aged 18-23 and 140 21-to 28-year-olds. Participants indicated the characteristics necessary for a person to be considered an adult on a questionnaire containing 40 possible criteria. In both studies, the top criteria endorsed emphasized aspects of individualism, including "accept responsibility for the consequences of your actions," "decide on own beliefs and values independently of parents or other influences," and "establish a relationship with parents as an equal adult." In contrast, role transitions typically associated with research on the transition to adulthood, such as finishing education, entering the labor force, marriage, and parenthood, were rejected as criteria for adulthood by a large majority in both studies. The results suggest that the current generation of young people in American society conceptualizes the transition to adulthood in intangible, gradual, psychological, and individualistic terms.
Youth and Society
Arnett, Jeffrey Jensen, "Young people's conceptions of the transition to adulthood" (1997). Psychology. 775.