Generativity and Value Orientations During Emerging Adulthood: Moderating the Role of Loneliness



The article discusses the concept of “generativity”, approaches to its study and its place in the framework of foreign and Russian psychology. The period of emerging adulthood is an impor- tant stage in the life cycle of a person, in which personal and professional identity is formed, close relationships, and an individual value system is created. Studies of generativity related to the period of early adulthood have shown that generative orientation is included in the value structure of a person and can be a leading motive. At the same time, this is a period of building social relations and searching for personal boundaries. The article presents the results of an empirical study where 203 emerging adults participated (17–24 years; M=19.58; SD=0.15), of which there were 23 men (11%) and 180 women (89%). In the study, it was hypothesized that in the differential analysis of values, generative orientation and generative actions can be associated with different values. The authors assumed that since loneliness reflects certain aspects of a person’s interaction with society, then at different levels of its severity the specificity of the ratio of values and generativity can also change. The following methods were used: Loyola Generativity Scale (LGS), Generative Actions List (GBC), Differential Loneliness Experience Questionnaire by E.N.Osin and D.A.Leontyev (DOPO) and the “Value Questionnaire” (CO) by Sh. Schwartz. Regression and cluster analyses were applied. The results of the study indicate a close relationship between generativity characteristics and the desire to maintain and preserve traditions (cultural, family, religious, etc.), as well as with a low level of feelings of isolation. It was revealed that generativity is associated mainly with values at the level of personal priorities, rather than at the level of normative ideals. Also, the relationship between generative orientation and hedonism, dependent on the attitude towards loneliness, is discussed. In the desire to avoid loneliness, an inverse relationship was revealed between the characteristics, while in the perception of loneliness as a resource — a direct one. The question is raised about the nature of the manifestation of generativity in people who feel dissatisfaction with interpersonal interaction. The practical significance of the study was that the data obtained confirm that with different severities of loneliness, the characteristics of generativity form different connections with values, which allows a more differentiated approach to accompanying the process of entering adulthood in practical and consulting work.

General Information

Keywords: generativity, generativity orientation, generativity actions, loneliness, isolation, value orientations, hedonism

Journal rubric: Empirical and Experimental Research

Article type: scientific article


Funding. The study was supported by the Russian Foundation for Basic Research, grant no. 19-013-00812.

Received: 25.07.2021


For citation: Polyakova M.K., Kharitonova T.S., Strizhitskaya O.Y. Generativity and Value Orientations During Emerging Adulthood: Moderating the Role of Loneliness. Vestnik of Saint Petersburg University. Psychology, 2021. Vol. 11, no. 4, pp. 326–340. DOI: 10.21638/spbu16.2021.403. (In Russ., аbstr. in Engl.)


Belykh, T.V., Kharlanova, A.O. (2018). Psychological analysis of the experience of loneliness among univer- sity students. Humanization of education, 3, 71–80. (In Russian)

Blatný, M., Millová, K., Jelínek, M., Romaňáková, M. (2019). Personality Predictors of Midlife Generativity: A Longitudinal Study. Journal of Adult Development, 26 (3), 219–231. 018-9323-z

Cacioppo, J.T., Cacioppo, S., Boomsma, D.I. (2014). Evolutionary mechanisms for loneliness. Cognition & Emotion, 28 (1), 3–21.

Chen, J., Krahn, H.J., Galambos, N.L., Johnson, M.D. (2019). Wanting to be remembered: intrinsically rewarding work and generativity in early midlife. Canadian Review of Sociology, 56 (1), 30–48.

Choe, S.Y., Lee, J.O., Read, S.J. (2020). Self‐concept as a mechanism through which parental psychological control impairs empathy development from adolescence to emerging adulthood. Social Development, 29 (3), 713–731.

Hofer, J., Busch, H., Šolcová, I.P., Au, A., Tavel, P., Wong, T.T. (2016). Generativity does not necessarily satisfy all your needs: Associations among cultural demand for generativity, generative concern, generative action, and need satisfaction in the elderly in four cultures. Developmental Psychology, 52 (3), 509–519.

Karandashev V.N. (2004). Workshop on psychodiagnostics. Schwartz’s methodology for the study of personal values: concept and methodological guide. St. Petersburg, Rech’ Publ.

Klementyeva, M.V. (2020). The “authentic self ” as a predictor of emerging adulthood in students. Psychological Science and Education, 25 (3), 64–74. (In Russian)

Kotre, J. (1995). Generative outcome. Journal of Aging Studies, 9 (1), 33–41. 4065(95)90024-1

Krahn, H.J., Johnson, M.D., Galambos, N.L. (2021). Intrinsically rewarding work and generativity in midlife: The long arm of the job. Work & Occupations, 48 (2), 184–206. https://doi. org/10.1177/0730888420964942

Lawford, H.L., Astrologo, L., Ramey, H.L., Linden-Andersen, S. (2020). Identity, intimacy, and generativity in adolescence and young adulthood: A test of the psychosocial model. Identity, 20 (1), 9–21.

Layden, E.A., Cacioppo, J.T., Cacioppo, S. (2018). Loneliness predicts a preference for larger interpersonal distance within intimate space. PLoS ONE, 13 (9), e0203491. pone.0203491

Mackinnon, S.P., Pasquale, de D., Pratt, M.W. (2016). Predicting generative concern in young adulthood from narrative intimacy: A 5-year follow-up. Journal of Adult Development, 23, 27–35.

Matthews, T., Odgers, C.L., Danese, A., Fisher, H.L., Newbury, J.B., Caspi, A., Moffitt, T.E., Arseneault, L. (2019). Loneliness and neighborhood characteristics: A multi-informant, nationally representative study of young adults. Psychological Science, 30 (5), 765–775.

McAdams, D., Aubin, de St. E. (1992). A theory of generativity and its assessment through self-report, behavioral acts, and narrative themes in autobiography. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 62 (6), 1003–1015.

McAdams, D.P., Aubin, de St. E. (1998). Generativity and adult development: How and why we care for the next generation. Washington, D. C., American Psychological Association Press.

McAdams, D.P., Aubin, de St. E., Logan, R. (1993). Generativity among young, midlife, and older adults. Psychology of Aging, 8, 221–230.

Nowakowska, I. (2020). Prosociality in Relation to Developmental Tasks of Emerging Adulthood. Developmental Psychology. Psychologia Rozwojowa, 25 (4), 15–25.

Osin, E.N. (2013). Differential questionnaire of the experience of loneliness: structure and properties. Psychology. Journal of the Higher School of Economics, 1, 55–81. (In Russian)

Polyakova, M.K., Tverdokhlebova, A.M. (2019). The ratio of the features of generativity and the experience of loneliness during the period of emerging adulthood. The world of pedagogy and psychology [Electronic resource] , 12. (accessed: 09.08.2020) (In Russian)

Sergienko, E.A., Zhuravlev, A.L. (2016). The genesis of the principle of development in modern psychology (instead of the preface). Principle of development in modern psychology. Moscow, Institute of Psychology RAS Press. P. 5–27.

Sergienko, E.A. (2014). The principle of differentiation — integration in the system of developmental psychology methodology. Differential-integration theory of development (pp. 45–61), comp. and ed. N.I.Chuprikova, E.V.Volkova, 2, Moscow, Yaziki slavyanskoi kulturi Publ.

Shvarts, Sh., Butenko, T.P., Sedova, D. S., Lipatova, A. S. (2012). Refined theory of basic individual values: application in Russia. Psychology. Journal of the Higher School of Economics, 9 (2), 43–70. (In Russian)

Stewart, A.J., Water, van de E.A. (1998). The course of generativity. In: McAdams D.P., Aubin de St. E. (eds) Generativity and adult development: How and why we care for the next generation (pp. 75–100). Washington, D. C., American Psychological Association Press.

Strizhitskaya, O.Iu., Polyakova, M.K. (2018). Loyola scale of generativity: Russian-language adaptation. Psychological journal, 1, 94–102. (In Russian)

Strizhitskaya O., Polyakova M. (2019). Generativity structure in Russian sample: approaches and concerns. 7th icCSBs 2018 The Annual International Conference on Cognitive — Social, and Behavioural Sciences. Conference proceedings. 2019. P. 109–117.

Information About the Authors

Maria K. Polyakova, Postgraduate Student, St. Petersburg State University, St.Petersburg, Russia, e-mail:

Tatiana S. Kharitonova, Senior Lecturer, St. Petersburg State University of Economics, St.Petersburg, Russia, e-mail:

Olga Y. Strizhitskaya, Doctor of Psychology, Professor, Head of the Department of Developmental Psychology and Differential Psychology, Faculty of Psychology, Saint-Petersburg State University, St.Petersburg, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:



Total: 265
Previous month: 12
Current month: 5


Total: 135
Previous month: 6
Current month: 7