Millennial Generation: Definition & Characteristics

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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Chris Clause
In this lesson, you will learn to define the term millennial generation, as well as learn about key characteristics that describe this group of people. Following the lesson, you will have the opportunity to test your knowledge with a short quiz.

Definition of Millennial Generation

You have probably thought about how personality styles can influence thoughts and behavior. For instance, people who are more extroverted tend to behave differently in social environments than more introverted people do.

Have you ever thought about the period of time when you were born influencing thoughts and behavior? Similar to one's personality providing a generalized overview of their thoughts and behavior, generational differences can help us understand human thoughts and behavior at a group level.

The millennial generation, sometimes also referred to as generation Y, is generally agreed to include people born in the early 1980s through the early 2000s. Like all generations, there is no definitive beginning and end; it is the societal and cultural circumstances of a time period which define it.

In this lesson, we'll discuss some of the key characteristics that make the millennial generation unique. It's important to remember that these descriptors are generalizations. Similar to knowing what someone's personality profile consists of, it provides a guide to better understanding a person's point of view, but cannot be relied on to explain and predict all thoughts and behavior. Additionally, the descriptors in this lesson will be primarily focused on Western or American cultures. People born in other parts of the world during this same time period will have no doubt had very different life experiences and, therefore, have their own unique generational descriptors reflective of the cultures and societies in which they live.


Like all generations, members of the millennial generation possess a variety of characteristics which make them unique and standout when compared to other generational groups. Let's take a look at a few of the more prominent characteristics that seem to shape this generation.

In general, millennials have a hopeful outlook on their lives and the future. If you think about the world in which they were raised, this should make sense. The 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s, while certainly not free of problems, were three decades, where, for the most part, having a dream and working hard oftentimes resulted in achievement. Whether it was a personal or societal goal, the opportunity to achieve existed during this time. Children of all walks of life growing up during this time experienced greater access to things like postsecondary education, technology, and basic resources than did previous generations, thus paving the way for millennials to focus on achieving the hopes and dreams of a better future.

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