The influence of culture in emerging adulthood: Perspectives of Chinese college students


emerging adulthood, cultural construction, China, Western culture


Emerging adulthood refers to a time period (18–25 years of age) between adolescence and adulthood. Recent research suggests that it may be a cultural construction. More traditional, non-Western cultures may have a shortened period of emerging adulthood, or no emerging adulthood at all, because these cultures tend to place greater emphasis on practices that lead to an earlier transition to adulthood. The purpose of this study was to examine emerging adulthood in the Chinese culture, including (1) the types of criteria Chinese young people deem necessary for becoming an adult, (2) the types of behaviours Chinese emerging adults are engaging in, (3) identity-related issues, and (4) other aspects of Chinese culture that might suggest that emerging adulthood in China may be different than in the United States. Participants in this study were 207 students at Beijing Normal University located in Beijing, China. Results provided evidence to support the notion that emerging adulthood is affected by culture. Findings revealed that the majority of Chinese college students (1) feel they have reached adult status in their early twenties, (2) have culturally specific criteria for adult status, and (3) tend to engage in behaviours and have beliefs and values that appear to differ from emerging adults in Western cultures.

Original Publication Citation

Nelson, L. J.,*Badger, S., & *Wu, B. (2004). The influence of culture in emerging adulthood: Perspectives of Chinese college students. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 28, 26-36.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


International Journal of Behavioral Development




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Family Life

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor