More Similar Than You May Think


Before taking the quiz I thought to myself, “I’d be willing to bet I’m less millennial than most of my peers.” I enjoy spending my time outdoors, talking to people face-to-face and am not as immersed in technology as many of my friends are. Much to my surprise, I scored a 93 on the quiz. The surprising results made me think about what defines our generation. In an attempt to discover the answer to this question I used a variety of technological tactics (how millennial of me). To start, I read a couple articles and was somewhat alarmed as to what I came across. While many of the articles claimed the millennials were educated and smart, many others characterized the millennials as having a lack of work ethic. Similar to what Emily Smith and Jennifer Aaker did in their NYTimes article, I also typed “millennials are” and “are millennials” into Google and was greeted with “lazy,” “the worst,” and “entitled” as autofills. The article also mentioned that the millennial generation is less concerned with making money and more concerned with happiness and making a difference in their careers. In fact, “a 2011 report commissioned by the Career Advisory Board and conducted by Harris Interactive, found that the No. 1 factor that young adults ages 21 to 31 wanted in a successful career was a sense of meaning” (Smith & Aaker). How can a generation be extremely educated, lazy and eager to make a difference all in one I thought? There must be certain underlying factors that have had significant influence on these widespread characteristics. I then watched the Generation WE video and began to see how some of these characteristics can emerge. In the video it was described that the millennials were the first generation in American history to inherit a nation in decline. Could this be a primary cause of young adults eagerness to make a difference in society? Other questions that crossed my mind included whether or not the social media craze amongst millennials made us lazier in general. It has certainly made us far worse communicators.

I then thought back to the quiz. Was I really wrong in my initial assumption that I’m less “millennial” that most of my peers. To test this, I took the quiz again, yet this time I answered the questions as if I were one of my parents. I was not surprised when I (acting as my mom) subsequently received a score of 91. Maybe I was right. Maybe I’m not as different from other generations as I thought. Either way, it’s difficult to come to any concrete conclusions based off of just 15 questions. Personally, I would need a more in depth study to feel comfortable with the results. While I don’t feel research such as this reveals all that much, I have no doubts that are underlying differences between the generations that stem from a variety of places.

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10 thoughts on “More Similar Than You May Think”

  1. I felt like a carbon copy after taking this quiz. I think of myself as old fashioned and funny enough, I scored 91% as well. Because this quiz targets millennials in particular, the data might not be all that accurate. I also want to point out that there are some leading questions… How many texts did I send yesterday? Beats me. I am not one to count. A biased individual, like myself, may think that the millennial characterization would choose the higher end and in spite of the truth pick a different answer.

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  2. I also felt that this quiz might be a bit flawed. I think it is actually pretty tough to live in the 21st century and get a low score on this quiz. I know for sure both my mother and father would score atleast a 90 on this quiz. Yet, they are Baby Boomers.

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    1. I agree with you there Cam, I felt like the quiz was very flawed. The questions reflect more contemporary attitudes than generational. What I wondered though was how much of these characteristics which we (not Pew) associate with this period in time, are driven by millennials? In other words, are the characteristics described in the quiz questions a phenomenon of individuals today adopting lifestyles/beliefs/ created by millennials? Or conversely is the technology which drives our current lifestyle independent of generation?

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  3. Cameron, I agree with your point that if you live in the 21st century it would be rather surprising to receive a low score on this quiz. Kendall, I also agree with you that this quiz may encourage untruthful answers based on the target audience (such as millennials choosing answers in spite of the truth and to sway the data), however I went back and looked at the quiz again and didn’t feel like there were any leading questions.

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  4. Jack, I was hoping you would be able to clarify your question. Which characteristics in the quiz are you talking about? I feel like you are getting at an interesting point, yet I want to be more clear about what you’re asking. Are you asking whether the millennials have created societal phenomenons that influence, and are adopted by non-millennials?

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  5. The quiz relies on some demographic trends, like divorced parents, tatoos, and piercings. Those will increase your score even if you don’t adhere to some of the more attitudinal dimensions.

    My parents divorced when I was 5, making me more like you all then Boomers or Silent generations.

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  6. What does it mean to be a nation in decline? Is that perception or measured in some concrete way?

    In the mid 1990s, Time magazine had a cover about Generation X saying we were first generation expected to earn less then our parents. I should find it. If so, wasn’t my generation the first? And in that case, aren’t GenXers and Millennials more similar then Boomers? And, come to think of it, if you were a teen-ager in the 1930s, you probably had a pretty strong sense of “decline” with 12-20% unemployment.

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  7. Jordi, I was also curious as to what Generation We meant when saying that we are a nation in decline. I would say it is more of a perceptual concept and not measured by any sort of concrete way. It seems to me that this would be a combination of the views of citizens and facts regarding the economy and society. For example, according to a 2013 gallup poll, only 15% of Americans approve of the job Congress is doing. Additionally, the CBO estimates that interest payments on our country’s debt will, alone, account for 36% of the budget in 2030, 58% in 2040 and 85% in 2050.

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