Generation Y: Definition, Characteristics & Personality Traits

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Taught by

Chevette Alston

Dr. Alston has taught intro psychology, child psychology, and developmental psychology at 2-year and 4-year schools.

This lesson defines what is meant by Generation Y. It also gives examples of the characteristics and personality traits often associated with this group of people.

We also recommend watching Health Characteristics of an Aging Population and Why Is Sociology Important? - Applications in Public Policy, Social Change & Personal Growth

What is Generation Y

Generation Y are a group of people born during the '80s and the early '90s. The name is based on Generation X, which is the peer group that came before them. Generation Y people may be known as echo boomers because they are the children of baby boomers, or someone who was born during the period of increased birth rates that occurred between 1946 and 1964. The Generation Y cohort is also referred to as Millennials, the Internet generation, iGen, and/or the Net generation.

This generation of people prefers to communicate through e-mail and text messages rather than actual face-to-face contact. Learning for them is more than just traditional brick and mortar college campuses. They also have access to presentations via webinars and online classes. Because children born during this time period have always had constant access to modern technology such as computers, laptops, and cell phones in their youth, their employment and social life is constantly defined by or required to incorporate updated forms of such types of electronics.

Generation Y


Generation Y is thought to be more family-oriented and willing to sacrifice career advancement for a better work/life balance. However, this doesn't mean they aren't achievement-oriented. Generation Y can be confident and ambitious. They are not afraid to question authority, are constantly seeking out new challenges, and want meaningful work.

Generation Y people typically want to be part of a team, but at the same time they desire to be in the spotlight. While they value teamwork and seek the input and affirmation of others, they also crave attention, feedback, and guidance. Overall, they are loyally committed and want to be included and involved.

Several other characteristics have been found over the years. According to a 2013 poll in the United Kingdom, Generation Y was found to be 'more open-minded than their parents to controversial topics.' It's also significantly more likely that Generation Y people don't practice any organized religion than older generations and tend to distrust religious institutions.


Because they grew up in an era of electronic technology, Generation Y people can be associated with some undesirable personality traits. They are known for requiring instant gratification, multitasking, and can exhibit very short attention spans. The need for attention can manifest as a constant fame-seeking quest. Such fame-seekers share a large amount of personal information and appear with bravado online. However, they may not be able to live up to the persona they've created in person. It would be disappointing to know that the 'Miley Cyrus' look alike you met online doesn't actually sing, act, or have a car, and in real life, still lives with her parents. This return to the parents' home has ultimately led to Generation Y being labeled in some circles as the Boomerang Generation or the slightly more derisive Peter Pan Generation.

Generation Y

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