Professor of Psychology Jeffrey Jensen Arnett has struck a national chord with his studies on “emerging adulthood,” a term he’s coined to describe the phenomenon of young men and women delaying their commitment to careers and relationships. Arnett’s research was the subject of a cover story in Sunday’s The New York Times Magazine, which posed the question, “What Is It About 20-Somethings?”
Author Robin Marantz Henig not only devotes 10 pages to Arnett’s contention that emerging adulthood is an actual life stage — and to the debate among psychologists and sociologists that has sprung from his theory — but she also pulls in Clark University’s heritage as a cutting-edge school for psychology. Henig points to an academic continuum stretching back from Arnett to G. Stanley Hall, Clark’s first president and the founding president of the American Psychological Association, who in 1904 published a groundbreaking study that led to the acceptance of adolescence as a distinct life stage.
Watch: Professor Arnett appears on NBC’s “Today” show segment, “When do you become a grown-up?” (Aug. 24)
In his day, even before today’s media-drenched times, Hall experienced something similar to what Arnett is now undergoing.
Besides being featured in the “most emailed” New York Times story, which was referenced in media outlets ranging from Psychology Today to the “Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” Arnett was also interviewed on WNET TV (PBS) in New York, The Laura Ingraham Show, Seattle public radio’s “The Conversation with Ross Reynolds [Clark Class of ’75],” and many others. The topic has captured numerous mentions online among bloggers and in social media.
A crew from WCVB-TV in Boston was on campus Monday to tape a “Chronicle” TV news magazine segment with Arnett. While he was being filmed for that show, Arnett received the phone call inviting him to be a guest on NBC’s “Today” show on Tuesday morning.
Arnett is the author of “Emerging Adulthood: The Winding Road from the Late Teens Through the Twenties.” His theories are inspiring interest from those curious as to why today’s 20-somethings are in no hurry to settle on a career, a spouse, and a home (other than the one they grew up in). Not surprisingly, his next book examines emerging adulthood from the parents’ perspective.