Emerging adulthood features and criteria for adulthood: Variable- and person-centered approaches

Semira Tagliabue*, Elisabetta Crocetti, Margherita Lanz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Reaching adulthood is the aim of the transition to adulthood; however, emerging adults differently define both adulthood and the transitional period they are living. Variable-centered and person-centered approaches were integrated in the present paper to investigate if the criteria used to define adulthood are linked to how emerging adults perceive the transitional phase they are going through. Participants were 1513 emerging adults (53.60% female; 807 university students and 706 young workers), aged from 19 to 30 years. Participants completed self-report measures about dimensions of emerging adulthood and criteria for adulthood. Main results revealed that, according to the variable-centered approach, criteria of adulthood and dimensions of emerging adulthood are only slightly associated, while the person-centered approach revealed that people who have a composite view of adulthood are also less probably perceiving their emerging adulthood as a period characterized by a lack of possibilities. Implications and future lines of research are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)374-388
JournalJournal of Youth Studies
Issue number3
Early online date17 Aug 2015
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2016


  • criteria for adulthood
  • Emerging adulthood
  • person-centered approach
  • variable-centered approach


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