Demarcating role transitions as indicators of adulthood in the 21st century: Who are they?

Lela A. Rankin, Den Yelle Baete Kenyon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The present study examines the transition into adulthood from a Symbolic Interactionism perspective, where people come to define themselves based on cultural influences and established cultural norms. College students (N = 234; mean age 23 years, SD = 6.26; 69.4% White, 14.5% Hispanic, 4.7% African-American) who had placed more importance on role transition markers (e.g., parenthood and marriage) as indicators of the transition into adulthood belonged to a fraternity/sorority were a traditionally aged college student (aged 18-25), were an ethnic minority were of a traditional marital status (i.e., not cohabitating) or belonged to a religious organization (particularly for men). These findings are consistent with the view that people who apparently hold collectivist or more traditional values place more importance on role transition markers as markers of adulthood. It is suggested that research take into account the cultural context when studying developmental periods that are culturally construed (i.e., the transition to adulthood), rather than biologically based.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)87-92
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Adult Development
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Cultural values
  • Role transitions
  • Symbolic interactionism
  • Transition to adulthood

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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