Agricultural Leadership, Education, and Communication, Department of


First Advisor

Lindsay J. Hastings

Date of this Version


Document Type



A thesis presented to the faculty of the Graduate College at the University of Nebraska in partial fulfillment of requirements for the degree of Master of Science

Major: Leadership Education

Under the supervision of Professor Lindsay Hastings

Lincoln, Nebraska, August 2022


Copyright 2022, Addison Sellon


Generativity expresses one’s level of care and concern for the next generation (Erikson, 1950, 1963). Initially established as a middle adulthood phenomenon, generativity has long been rooted in a middle adulthood framework both conceptually and through its psychometric dimensions. However, many studies have found generativity to be present in other stages of life, particularly young adulthood. This then raised the question of whether the traditional model used for generativity’s manifestation represents young adults’ experiences. This study sought further to explore generativity’s manifestation in a way that is specific to young adults. Applying traditional grounded theory techniques, the present research reanalyzed secondary data from four original studies to explore how generativity is manifested within young adults. A new conceptual model of generativity was developed from these studies, and a theory depicting how generativity is manifested among this age group was generated. The new conceptual model was also compared to the traditional framework of generativity, showcasing similarities and differences in how generativity manifests among middle-aged and young adults. This study establishes foundational insight into the uniqueness of generativity’s development in young adulthood and encourages future research to explore this construct further.

Advisor: Lindsay Hastings