How the Millennial Generation Works

The Millennial Generation's Attitude

Millennial Swim Experience event Millennial Swim Experience event
Guests take part in the #SUMMERSCHOOL Millennial Swim Experience event on June 12, 2016, in New York City. Marie Simonova/Getty Images

Many researchers have examined the millennials' attitudes and opinions across a spectrum of issues. Most show evidence of a generation that is highly educated, self-confident, technologically savvy and ambitious. Contrary to popular belief, they are not all obsessed with coffee, avocado toast and man buns, although sometimes it seems that way!

One of the oft-cited aspects that distinguishes the millennials is that they're extremely "connected." About 92 percent of millennials own smartphones, although Gen Xers nip at their heels with 85 percent. Not surprisingly, almost all millennials (85 percent) use some form of social media, and are more likely to adopt new platforms when they become available than older generations [source: Jiang].

Politically, millennials tend to be more liberal than boomers, even Gen Xers. Indeed, they were among Barack Obama's strongest supporters during the 2008 presidential election (66 percent voted for him). And when President Donald Trump took office in 2016 he did so without a lot of support from the group. In fact, a 2018 survey found that only 27 percent of millennials approved of Trump's job performance after one year on the job, compared with 64 percent giving Obama the thumbs-up after the same period of time in office [source: Pew].

Music sensation Hozier might have scored a hit with this generation thanks to his song "Take Me to Church," but that doesn't mean that millennials are actually going. Surveys have consistently shown that millennials are less religious than older generations were when they were younger. There's one notable caveat, however — a 2018 Pew survey found that black millennials are significantly more religious than their nonblack counterparts, with 61 percent reporting that they pray on a daily basis, compared with 39 percent of nonblack millennials [source: Pew].

Demographically, millennials are larger and more ethnically diverse than previous generations. They're also much more accepting of interracial marriage — some 85 percent supported it in a 2010 Pew Report. This is in line with a generation that is now more than 40 percent nonwhite, a significant shift from previous generations [source: Pew]. And 73 percent supported same sex marriage, according to a 2015 poll, a much higher rate than for Gen X and boomers.

Because employers are especially interested in understanding the profile of a millennial, plenty of research has been done to look at the effects of the generation on the workforce. Millennials have long been painted as entitled and narcissistic. One meta-analysis of 170 studies appeared to back this up by saying that the personality trait of entitlement, which it defined as "believing you are better than others and deserve more than them" was 25 percent higher among millennials than Gen Xers.

However, other research has declared that similar percentages of millennials, Gen Xers and even boomers, are interested in the same long-term career goals, like making a positive impact on the organization, becoming an expert in their chosen field and doing what they're passionate about. Any differences in work ethic are more likely due to stage of life than to any permanent generational attitudes. In other words, all people in their 20s tend to be narcissistic and get less so as they age [source: Pfau].

Last editorial update on Apr 19, 2019 01:10:46 pm.

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