Theoretical And Empirical Considerations

Although the transition to adulthood has been a topic of research for decades in the social sciences, particularly in sociology, this research has focused on demographic patterns and has rarely included studies of how young people themselves view the transition. However, in recent years numerous studies have investigated young Americans' perspectives on the transition to adulthood (Arnett, 1994, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2004; Crockett, 2000; Greene, Wheatley, & Aldava, 1992; Scheer, Unger, &

Brown, 1994). The findings of these studies, conducted on samples of various ages using a variety of methods, converge so strongly as to suggest the existence of a pervasive, coherent conception of the transition to adulthood among young people in American society. The three criteria found to be most important as criteria for the transition to adulthood are: accepting responsibility for one's self, making independent decisions, and financial independence.

Specifically, Scheer et al. (1994) surveyed adolescents aged 13-19 about the criteria they viewed as marking the transition to adulthood. Participants were asked to mark one of eight options as the most important factor for them in becoming adults, with the options based on a previous interview study (Scheer & Palkovitz, 1995). The top three responses were "taking responsibility for my actions," "making my own decisions," and "financial independence/having a job." Legal age thresholds and role transitions such as marriage, parenthood, and finishing education ranked low.

Greene et al. (1992) asked high school (12th grade) and college students to respond in writing to the question, "In your perception, what characteristics and/or experiences make a person an adult?" They found the top three criteria to be the same for both high school and college students: responsible behavior, autonomous decision making, and financial independence. Chronological age, physical changes, legal thresholds, and role transitions were rarely mentioned.

Also, Arnett (1994) used a 40-item questionnaire to examine college students' (aged 18-23) conceptions of the transition to adulthood. They were asked to "Indicate whether you think each of the following must be achieved before a person can be considered an adult," by marking yes or no. The three criteria endorsed by the highest percentage of students were "accept responsibility for the consequences of your actions" (92%), "decide on beliefs and values independently of parents or other influences," (80%), and "establish a relationship with parents as an equal adult" (72%), with "support self financially" (66%) close behind. As in the Greene et al. (1992) and Scheer et al. (1994) studies, criteria such as chronological age and role transitions ranked very low. Similar results were found in a community sample of 12- to 55-year-olds, with few differences between age groups (Arnett, 2001).

These studies indicate that the conception of the transition to adulthood held by contemporary Americans in their teens and early twenties is notably individualistic and emphasizes qualities of character. The top three criteria—accepting responsibility for one's self, making independent decisions, and financial independence—have a common theme of individualism, in that they emphasize the capacity of the individual to stand alone as a self-sufficient person, without relying upon anyone else. Furthermore, accepting responsibility for one's self and making independent decisions are character qualities rather than specific events.

But how do young people explain the importance of these criteria, and how do they apply them to their own progress through the transition to adulthood? To answer this question, I will describe one of my studies of conceptions of adulthood among contemporary young Americans in more detail (Arnett, 1998).

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.

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