Getting to Yes, And

Jean Twenge: Generations


Jean Twenge

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Kelly sits down with Jean Twenge, Professor of Psychology at San Diego State University and the author of “Generations: The Real Difference Between Gen Z, Millennials, Gen X, Boomers, and Silents – and What They Mean for America’s Future.”

One of your major differentiations between all generations is what technology each generation was born into.

“It all comes back to technology. It's a big focus in the book, and especially with smartphones and social media. It's just completely changed the landscape. So we have  Gen Z, so those born roughly 1995 to 2012. They're coming into the workplace now and there’s a really big break between them and the millennials. The millennials are very optimistic. Gen Z is very pessimistic. Millennials certainly played around with the Internet and social media quite a bit when they were growing up, but for Gen Z, it's all they've ever known. They don't know a time before the smartphone and ubiquitous social media.”

In addition to technology, you really mark generational differences around individualism.

"Generational differences all come from how old we you are when you experience a certain event, and that has an impact on people, but not as much as technology; and it’s not just the Internet, but things like better medical care and air conditioning and washing machines have just completely changed our lives. And that's what makes it so different to live now compared to 100 years ago or 50 years ago or even 20 years ago. That has a big impact. Then technology has these downstream effects too, that it makes it possible to focus more on the self and less on others. So that's individualism.”

You also talk about how current generations have increasingly slowed down.

“The entire developmental trajectory from infancy to old age has slowed down. So kids are less independent; teens are less likely to get their driver's license or have a job when they're still in high school. Young adults take longer to get married and have kids and settle into a career. And then middle aged and older people feel younger than their parents and grandparents did at the same age. So that idea that 60 is a new 50 is kind of true.”

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