Emerging Adulthood: Theory, Assessment and Application

Alan Reifman, Jeffrey Jensen Arnett, Malinda J. Colwell


The later attainment of traditional adult roles by today’s youth compared to their counterparts of earlier decades has garnered considerable scholarly and public attention. This article describes a recent concept related to the transition to adulthood, known as emerging adulthood, including a discussion of relevant theory and historical background research. We then introduce a measurement instrument, the Inventory of the Dimensions of Emerging Adulthood (IDEA), which assesses identification with transition-to-adulthood themes. Results of initial scale-development studies were largely supportive of the measure’s reliability and validity. Respondents in their 20s identified with relevant themes to a greater extent than did their younger and older counterparts. Marital status differences on the IDEA emerged, but college and non-college respondents were largely similar. Finally, we provide suggestions for how parent educators can make use of the IDEA instrument in advising parents and their emerging adult children.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5195/jyd.2007.359

Copyright (c) 2007 Journal of Youth Development

License URL: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/