Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 8, Issue 2, pp 131–147 | Cite as

A longitudinal study of adolescents' future orientation (time perspective)

  • Gisela Trommsdorff
  • Helmut Lamm
  • Rolf W. Schmidt


This longitudinal study was designed to test hypotheses concerning the influence of environmental changes in different groups (educational status; sex) of adolescents on their future orientation (FO). FO was measured through a free-response questionnaire on which the subjects indicated their hopes and fears (which were later categorized into various domains of life by independent judges). On a second questionnaire the subjects adjudged their present and future life in various given domains of life. The sample consisted of 24 male and 24 female adolescents, aged between 14–16 years at the time of the first measurement; the second measurement took place two years later. Half of the subjects of each sex were students at a Gymnasium (preparing for university study) at both times of measurement (“high social status”). The other half of the subjects of each sex were in their last year at the Hauptschule (continuation of elementary education) at the first time of measurement, and had taken up employment (e.g., an apprenticeship) by the time of the second measurement (“low social status”). At the time of the second measurement relatively more hopes and fears were voiced in the domains of personal development and occupation than at the first measurement. Independent of time of measurement, low-status subjects voiced relatively more hopes and fears related to the occupational domain, and boys had a more extended FO than girls. Low-status subjects — as compared to high-status subjects as well as to their own judgments at the first measurement — believed to a greater extent that the materialization of their hopes and fears depended on themselves rather than on external forces. These results support the assumption that FO cannot be dealt with as a global concept and that FO can be modified by change in the external environments, such as entry into an occupation.


Longitudinal Study Social Status School Psychology External Environment Female Adolescent 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1979

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gisela Trommsdorff
    • 3
  • Helmut Lamm
    • 1
  • Rolf W. Schmidt
    • 2
  1. 1.Pädagogische HochschuleCologne
  2. 2.Speyer
  3. 3.Universität MannheimMannheimWest Germany

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