Generational Values: Blurring the lines that matter

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The media often casts Millennials as selfish, self-entitled, and self-absorbed, and driven by egocentric values, like money, status, and recognition. What fascinates me is that some of these denouncers are Baby Boomers who have conveniently forgotten that they come from the original “Me generation.” Anecdotal evidence is worth little in the scientific and research community, but I have yet to meet a member of Generation Y who insists on having the world handed to them on a platter made of ipads and iphones. But why rely on my personal anecdotal evidence of the three Millennials whom I helped raise (my brother and two cousins, who expertly juggle hard work, school, and friends) when I can whip out my fancy stats program and run data from our Values Profile.

And here’s what my data reveals: That the “Me” generation is very much a “We” generation. Not only do they venerate values like family, community, and hard work, they also share 9 of their top 10 values in common with Generation Xers and Baby Boomers. When I looked at each cohort – Millennials, Generation X, and Baby Boomers – individually in order to determine how each group scored on the 34 values assessed on the test, what I discovered was that in spite of age differences, these three groups differed very little in terms of their value system. Here’s how each group scored on the top ten values:

(Note: Scores are based on a range from 0 to 100. The higher the score, the more important the group considers the value).

Family & Friends

  • Score for Millennials: 78
  • Score for Generation X: 75
  • Score for Baby Boomers: 76

All three groups value their relationships with friends and family, and derive a great deal of joy from being surrounded by those they love.

Empathy

  • Score for Millennials: 78
  • Score for Generation X: 80
  • Score for Baby Boomers: 82

All three groups consider empathy essential in order to recognize, understand, and relieve the suffering of others.

Hard Work

  • Score for Millennials: 77
  • Score for Generation X: 76
  • Score for Baby Boomers: 78

All three groups believe in the value of hard work, and admire people who also uphold this value. They consider it important to put a dedicated effort into everything they take on.

Acceptance & Belonging

  • Score for Millennials: 77
  • Score for Generation X: 73
  • Score for Baby Boomers: 75

All three groups consider it important to be a part of a team, personally and professionally. They value a variety of opinions and want others to approve of and support them.

Altruism

  • Score for Millennials: 76
  • Score for Generation X: 78
  • Score for Baby Boomers: 78

All three groups consider it a priority to come to the aid of those in need, and show a strong desire to offer their time and resources to help others.

Stability

  • Score for Millennials: 75
  • Score for Generation X: 72
  • Score for Baby Boomers: 71

All three groups value and thrive on structure and dislike ambiguity. They prefer to plan ahead and approach goals and problems in a methodical, step-by-step manner.

Community

  • Score for Millennials: 72
  • Score for Generation X: 72
  • Score for Baby Boomers: 76

All three groups are (or consider it important to be) highly involved in their community and its social causes. They consider it essential to speak out against injustice.

Ethics & Morals

  • Score for Millennials: 71
  • Score for Generation X: 73
  • Score for Baby Boomers: 78

All three groups believe that living their life according to certain ethics and principles is vital. They know what they stand for and recognize that aligning their goals with their principles is crucial to their happiness.

Innovation

  • Score for Millennials: 70
  • Score for Generation X: 68
  • Score for Baby Boomers: 72

All three groups advocate innovation, and believe that it is essential for the world to continue to progress and advance new theories, ideas, and inventions.

The three generations only differed on one of the top 10 values: Whereas both Generation X and Baby Boomers value Intellectualism – the pursuit of knowledge and the desire to expand their intellectual horizons – Millennials value Socializing and the desire to expand their network. Given that Millennials have grown up in a highly technical age that revolves around social media, this did not come as much of a surprise to me.

Our values are very much a function of the era we group up in – the social, economic, and global climate. However, what our study has revealed is that very little has changed since WWII, in the sense that people from that generation and those who came later still place more emphasis on the importance of “wholesome” values, like family, community, altruism, and less on money and power. When it comes down to it, there really is no generation gap when it comes to what we value…just perhaps different ways of fulfilling that value. So whereas Baby Boomer parents may have marched the streets to protest an injustice, for example, Millennials are harnessing the power of social media to promote causes they believe in. Different approaches, but both based on the same good intentions.

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Insightfully yours,

Queen D

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