By Meredith Bennett-Smith
The Huffington Post
They have been called the Millenials and Generation Y by some: the “Go-Nowhere Generation” and “Generation Why Bother” by others. The researcher in charge of a new and ongoing national survey on the generation claims, however, that whatever you might call them, this most recent American batch, ages 18-29, are not the slacking, uninterested, overgrown adolescents they’ve been labeled.
Jeffrey Jensen Arnett is a research professor in psychology at Clark University who has been studying this age group for over 20 years. He analyzed The Clark University Poll of Emerging Adults and also coined the term “emerging adults,” now used by many social scientists, to describe the life stage.
Arnett evaluated the poll’s 1,029 answers to questions regarding participants’ lives: where they’re going, how they’re feeling and what they want from it.
“I think this survey is valuable in giving a broad perspective on what [they find important],” Arnett told The Huffington Post.
The researcher acknowledged the many negative stereotypes about these “emerging adults,” but maintained that he has never agreed with the stereotypes and feels vindicated by national data he says proves his point.
Arnett specifically points to a question concerning independence.
“This group is said to be lazy,” Arnett said to HuffPost, “but 75 percent said they’re trying to be independent and don’t like relying on their parents, even though most of them need to for most of their twenties.” (Six percent reported frequent financial support from their parents, and 31 percent said they receive support “occasionally.”)
Another question pointed towards Millenials’ idealistic tendencies. Some 85 percent of respondents said they would prefer a job that made a difference.
“It’s not just about having money and forgetting about everybody else,” Arnett said.