Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)




Dorothy E. Finnegan


Researchers have attempted to untangle the complexity of a generation through four primary effects---time interval, cohort, period, and attitude---based on personal and societal attributes. The Millennial generation, born 1982-2000, has received considerable attention through the media, in educational institutions, and in the workplace. The seven persona characterization of the Millennials of Howe and Strauss (1991, 2000) has been extensively cited, yet not been widely scrutinized. Higher education personnel, in particular, have utilized Howe and Strauss' theory to explain changes observed with the current college student population.;This case study sought to discover the relationship and interrelationship between the four-generation effects and to develop a more sophisticated understanding of the Millennial generation. This study explored the perceptions of twenty-eight, traditionally aged college students from two mid-Atlantic universities. The findings reveal that generations are more complex than the four-generation effects, and the Millennial portrait has been understated. The personal attributes, specifically related to the family, serve as the foundation for the values, attitudes, and beliefs the participants develop about the societal attributes. Generations have been examined only from the perspective of heterogeneity between and homogeneity within generations. This viewpoint is limited, and the converse is important to consider. Generations appear to develop as a kaleidoscope rather than in distinct groupings.



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