|dc.description.abstract||Within the last half century, development during the transition to adulthood is said to have drastically shifted (Arnett, 2006, 2001). Arnett proposed a new developmental stage known as “emerging adulthood” (EA) to describe this time period (Arnett, 2006, 2000). Experiences during EA vary substantially from individual to individual, though the specific contexts that foster such experiences are less certain (Arnett, 2006). The current study builds upon past research on emerging adults by using the life-span model of motivation (LMM; Nurmi, 2004; Salmela-Aro, 2007) as a framework for understanding the relationship between individual development and the context in which individuals reside with a specific emphasis the university environment.
The sample included 737 participants aged 18 to 29 (mean age = 21.50, SD = 3.04; n males = 170, 23.2%). There were 509 undergraduate students (mean age = 20.32, SD = 2.21), 74 graduate students (mean age = 24.77, SD = 1.89), and 154 non-university participants (mean age = 23.81, SD = 3.44). Participation occurred via online questionnaire. Participants completed a sociodemographic questionnaire, measures of various markers of development, and measures of psychosocial correlates (internalizing/externalizing behaviours). Participants were also asked if they felt as though they had reached adulthood.
The results indicate that the description of EA does in part seem to fit with modern theories of development in that typical trajectories were observed. For example, many of the differences in EA experiences across context (i.e., status groups) were no longer present once age (i.e., maturation) was considered and many of the channeling factors (i.e., income, employment) were largely unrelated to development. Nevertheless, individual variations in experience were still observed based on channeling factors. Specifically, non-university participants, individuals in committed relationships, and those employed full-time appear to be further along in their attainment of developmental tasks when compared to university students, single participants, and those employed part-time or unemployed. Further, parenthood predicted whether or not an individual felt as though she or he had transitioned to adulthood. Overall, common developmental experiences appear to occur among 18 to 29 year olds, variations exist based on how development is being channeled through different contexts.||