Journal of Adult Development

, Volume 8, Issue 2, pp 133–143

Conceptions of the Transition to Adulthood: Perspectives From Adolescence Through Midlife

  • Jeffrey Jensen Arnett

DOI: 10.1023/A:1026450103225

Cite this article as:
Arnett, J.J. Journal of Adult Development (2001) 8: 133. doi:10.1023/A:1026450103225


Conceptions of the transition to adulthood were examined among adolescents (age 13–19, N = 171), emerging adults (age 20–29, N = 179), and young-to-midlife adults (age 30–55, N = 165). The focus was on whether conceptions of the transition to adulthood would be different among young-to-midlife adults compared to the younger age groups. In all age groups, individualistic criteria were the most likely to be considered important markers of the transition to adulthood, specifically accepting responsibility for one's actions, deciding on one's beliefs and values, establishing an equal relationship with parents, and becoming financially independent. However, young-to-midlife adults were less likely than adolescents to consider biological transitions to be important, and more likely than adolescents or emerging adults to view norm compliance (such as avoiding drunk driving) as a necessary part of the transition to adulthood. In all three groups, role transitions (e.g., marriage) ranked lowest in importance.

transition to adulthoodyoung adulthoodindividualism

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jeffrey Jensen Arnett
    • 1
  1. 1.University of MarylandUSA