Jean Twenge

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Jean M. Twenge
Jean Marie Twenge

(1971-08-24) August 24, 1971 (age 47)
EducationUniversity of Chicago, University of Michigan
Children3 daughters[1]
Scientific career
InstitutionsSan Diego State University
ThesisAssertiveness, sociability, and anxiety: a cross-temporal meta-analysis, 1928-1993 (1998)

Jean Marie Twenge (born August 24, 1971) is an American psychologist researching generational differences, including work values, life goals, and speed of development. She is a professor of psychology at San Diego State University, author, consultant, and public speaker.[2] She has examined generational differences in work attitudes,[3] life goals,[4] developmental speed,[5] sexual behavior,[6] and religious commitment.[7]

She is also known for her books iGen (2017), Generation Me (2006, updated 2014) and The Narcissism Epidemic (2009, co-authored with W. Keith Campbell). In the September 2017 issue of The Atlantic, Twenge argued that smartphones were the most likely cause behind the sudden increases in mental health issues among teens after 2012.[8][9] Twenge co-authored a 2017 corpus linguistics analysis that said that George Carlin's "seven dirty words you can't say on television" were used 28 times more frequently in 2008 than in 1950 in the texts at Google Books. Twenge said the increase is due to the dominance of self over social conventions.[10]


  • iGen: Why Today's Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood (2017) ISBN 9781501151989
  • The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement (2010) ISBN 9781494502348
  • Generation Me: Why Today's Young Americans are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled - and More Miserable Than Ever Before (2014) ISBN 978-1476755564
  • The Impatient Woman's Guide to Getting Pregnant (2012) ISBN 9781541456235
  • Personality Psychology: Understanding Yourself and Others (co-authored with W. Keith Campbell) (2016) ISBN 9780205917426
  • Social Psychology (co-authored with David G. Myers) (2012) ISBN 9780078035296


In IGen: Why Today's Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy—and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood—and What That Means for the Rest of Us, Jean Twenge examines the advantages, disadvantages, and consequences of technology in the lives of the current generation of teens/young adults generally known as "Generation Z" who she aptly names, iGen. Twenge claims that "iGeners" are born in the mid-1990s to the mid-2000s and later. iGen is the first generation to spend their entire adolescence in the age of the smartphone.

Generational divides are said to be more prominent than ever and parents, educators, and employers have a strong desire to understand the newer generation. Social media and texting have replaced many typical activities that older generations grew up with, therefore, iGeners are spending less time interacting in person. That is said to lead them to experience higher levels of anxiety, depression, and loneliness than seen in prior generations.

Technology, however, isn’t the only thing that distinguishes iGeners from generations prior— the way in which their time is spent contributes to changes in their behaviors and attitudes toward religion, sexuality, and politics. Twenge argues that iGeners’ socialization skills and wants for the future have taken a turn towards an atypical, yet safe route. She elaborates on these topics throughout different chapters of the book. Each of these changes factor into her overall argument: that iGeners are unlike any generation seen before, and earlier generations must learn to understand them in order to keep up. With their new developmental ways, their impact will be unlike any before them.

Her evaluations are based on four databases: Monitoring the Future, The Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System, The American Freshman Survey, and the General Social Survey. Each of these surveys asked iGeners quantitative and qualitative questions to determine if being raised synergistically with technology has made them less rebellious, more tolerant, less happy, less resilient to the challenge of adulthood, as Twenge asserts. In addition to the databases, Twenge conducted interviews with young adults across the country to collect first hand data about the challenges growing up with technology being presented to the current generation of teens and young adults.[11]


Her research on narcissism among millennials has been criticized by Jeffrey Arnett, who told The New York Times in 2013 that "I think she is vastly misinterpreting or over-interpreting the data, and I think it’s destructive". His criticisms of her work on narcissism include that she relies on the Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI), which he says is inherently flawed at measuring narcissism.[12] Twenge has responded to this criticism by writing that the NPI " is employed in 77% of studies of narcissistic traits," and that it " also the best self-report predictor of narcissistic traits derived from clinical interviews." She also argues that "Documenting trends in young people’s self-reported traits and attitudes is empirical research, not a complaint or a stereotype."[13]

Twenge, in regard to her work on smart phone usage among Millennials, has also been criticized for cherry-picking data only from studies that support her idea, presenting data that is correlative rather than causal, and for focusing on averaged and aggregate data rather than taking social contexts into account.[14] Twenge has responded to these criticisms.[15]

One of the critiques of the book ‘iGen’ is that Twenge states her conclusions first then goes out to gather the data, selecting the data that falls in line with her conclusions and sets aside the information that doesn’t.[16] There is a similar critique of Twenge selecting specific data that will jolt her readers. There’s the sense that Twenge bashes iGen and falls into a similar view hinting that this generation has it wrong and has taken a step backward in societal advancement and personal resilience.[17] The book is described as creating a grim representation of the iGen population and she’s criticized for her negative interpretation of data and interviews of teens. There is an inference that even the data presented could be read with a positive light and have a different meaning about iGen.[18]


  1. ^ "Jean M. Twenge Ph.D." Psychology Today.
  2. ^ Schawbel, Dan. "Jean Twenge: What Employers Need To Know About iGen". Forbes. Retrieved 2017-10-06.
  3. ^ Campbell, Stacy M.; Twenge, Jean M.; Campbell, W. Keith (2017-04-01). "Fuzzy But Useful Constructs: Making Sense of the Differences Between Generations". Work, Aging and Retirement. 3 (2): 130–139. doi:10.1093/workar/wax001. ISSN 2054-4642.
  4. ^ Twenge, J. M. (2012). "Generational differences in young adults' life goals, concern for others, and civic orientation, 1966-2009" (PDF). Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 102 (5): 1045–1062. doi:10.1037/a0027408. PMID 22390226.
  5. ^ Twenge, Jean M.; Park, Heejung (2017). "The Decline in Adult Activities Among U.S. Adolescents, 1976–2016". Child Development. 90 (2): 638–654. doi:10.1111/cdev.12930. ISSN 1467-8624. PMID 28925063.
  6. ^ Twenge, Jean M.; Sherman, Ryne A.; Wells, Brooke E. (2017-02-01). "Sexual Inactivity During Young Adulthood Is More Common Among U.S. Millennials and iGen: Age, Period, and Cohort Effects on Having No Sexual Partners After Age 18". Archives of Sexual Behavior. 46 (2): 433–440. doi:10.1007/s10508-016-0798-z. ISSN 0004-0002. PMID 27480753.
  7. ^ Twenge, Jean M.; Exline, Julie J.; Grubbs, Joshua B.; Sastry, Ramya; Campbell, W. Keith (2015-05-11). "Generational and Time Period Differences in American Adolescents' Religious Orientation, 1966–2014". PLOS ONE. 10 (5): e0121454. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0121454. ISSN 1932-6203. PMC 4427319. PMID 25962174.
  8. ^ Twenge, Jean M. "Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2017-10-06.
  9. ^ Denizet-Lewis, Benoit (October 11, 2017). "Why Are More American Teenagers Than Ever Suffering From Severe Anxiety?". The New York Times. Retrieved October 12, 2017.
  10. ^ Twenge, Jean M.; VanLandingham, Hannah; Campbell, W. Keith (2017-08-03). "The Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television: Increases in the Use of Swear Words in American Books, 1950-2008". SAGE Open. 7 (3): 215824401772368. doi:10.1177/2158244017723689. Lay summaryThe Guardian (2017-08-08).
  11. ^ 1971-, Twenge, Jean M. (2017-08-22). IGen : why today's super-connected kids are growing up less rebellious, more tolerant, less happy-- and completely unprepared for adulthood (and what this means for the rest of us) (First Atria books hardcover ed.). New York, NY. ISBN 9781501151989. OCLC 965140529.
  12. ^ Quenqua, Douglas (2013-08-05). "Seeing Narcissists Everywhere". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-12-30.
  13. ^ Jean M. Twenge (2013-03-01). "Overwhelming Evidence for Generation Me: A Reply to Arnett". Emerging Adulthood. 1 (1): 21–26. doi:10.1177/2167696812468112. ISSN 2167-6968.
  14. ^ "No, Smartphones are Not Destroying a Generation". Psychology Today. Retrieved 2018-08-15.
  15. ^ Twenge, Jean (2017). "Making iGen's Mental Health Issues Disappear". Psychology Today. Retrieved 2019-01-08.
  16. ^ Quinn, Annalisa (September 17, 2017). "Move Over Millennials, Here Comes 'iGen'... Or Maybe Not". NPR.
  17. ^ "a book review by Marilyn Gates: iGen: Why Today's Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy—and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood—and What That Means for the Rest of Us". Retrieved 2018-04-23.
  18. ^ "Book review: Jean Twenge's latest spotlights dangers of being a part of the smartphone generation". The National. Retrieved 2018-04-23.

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