Future Directions

The widespread endorsement of individualistic criteria across the different studies is striking. However, this does not mean that we can in any sense draw conclusions about a universal, worldwide conception of what it means to be an adult. The different studies conducted thus far represent diverse cultures in several regions of the world. However, all the samples have consisted mainly of young people from the urban middle-class sector of their societies. Future research will have to explore other possible differences both within and between countries.

Rural-urban differences are one such possible difference. These differences may not be large in industrialized countries. For example, a mostly-rural sample of emerging adults in Missouri (Arnett, 1998) held conceptions of the transition to adulthood almost identical to the emerging adults in San Francisco (Arnett, 2003). However, rural-urban differences may be larger in economically developing countries, because young people living in the two areas are likely to be much more different culturally (e.g., education, economic basis, exposure to media) than is the case in economically developed countries.

In short, country does not equal culture, and there may be cultural differences within countries that are as great or greater than differences between similar groups across countries. The studies by Nelson (2003) and by Arnett (2003) are illustrative. The Mormon emerging adults described by Nelson are part of American society and embrace many individualistic criteria for adulthood, yet certain aspects of their conception of the transition to adulthood are starkly different than for emerging adults in the majority culture. Specifically, their religious beliefs are the basis for some of the criteria for adulthood that are important to many of them, such as participating in religious rites of passage and being admitted into the gender-specific adult organizations that are part of their religious institution. Similarly, the emerging adults in the ethnic minority groups described by Arnett (2003) support a variety of individualistic criteria for adulthood, just as White American emerging adults do, but they are more likely than Whites to favor certain criteria for adulthood that reflect the more collectivistic values of their cultures.

And what of the rest of the world, the vast regions and diverse areas not discussed in this chapter? Africa, Asia, Central America, Eastern Europe? Clearly there is much that remains to be discovered about how young people around the world think about what it means to be an adult. Of particular interest are the conceptions of adulthood that exist among young people in traditional, tribal cultures that are as yet little touched by globalization or industrialization. Here is where the sharpest contrast may be found to the individualistic conception of adulthood favored by many young people in industrialized societies. Many of these cultures are more collectivistic in their values than industrialized countries are, and their criteria for adulthood may be expected to vary accordingly, perhaps with greater emphasis on marriage, parenthood, and culture-specific roles that entail obligations to others. We can only speculate at this point, but this is certainly an important and compelling topic for future research.

Research on conceptions of the transition to adulthood is a central part of the growing field of emerging adulthood, which focuses on the developmental characteristics of young people from their late teens through their twenties. So far, research in this area has turned up many fascinating and surprising findings, as this chapter illustrates. As the study of emerging adulthood grows and spreads further around the world, more such findings will surely be discovered. Explorations of emerging adults' views of the transition to adulthood are important to a fuller understanding of what it means to be an adult, as well as to an understanding of the different balances between individualism and collectivism that cultural groups may devise in contemporary societies.

Finding Your Confidence

Finding Your Confidence

Confidence is necessary to achieve success in life. Some effective confidence tips must be followed if you genuinely want to gain accomplishment in your work. So how do you build your confidence that will work for you in any situation? Initially, make an effort to spend time with confident people. Their vigor and strength is so stirring that you will surely feel yourself more powerful just by listening to their talk. To build confidence it is vital that you are in the midst of self-assuring people.

Get My Free Ebook

Post a comment