Most of my research focuses on the differences among generations (the academic term is birth cohort). The best way to find generational differences is to find data that’s been collected throughout time. Unlike a one-time survey, data over time can determine that differences are due to generation or time and not to age.
My students and I often conduct these studies using a variation on meta-analysis, finding journal articles and dissertations that gave people psychological scales over a period of several decades. I call this cross-temporal meta-analysis (for more on this method, click here.
Large databases such as Monitoring the Future (of high school students), the American Freshman (of entering college students), and the General Social Survey (of adults) are also very useful for discovering generational and time period differences. Between the meta-analyses and these three databases, our generational studies draw from the responses of 11 million people between the 1930s and the present.These studies have found generational and time period differences in work attitudes, personality traits, attitudes, and behaviors. My co-authors and I have also drawn on other databases such as the Social Security Administration’s catalog of the names given to 325 million Americans since 1880, and the Google Books database of the language used in the full text of 5 million books. These studies have revealed shifts in the culture, including the increased use of unique names, more individualistic language in books, and increasing gender equality in the use of pronouns.
I also do lab research on several topics, including social rejection and the influence of modern culture on personality traits.
For a list of some of my research articles, click here.