Within the generation research it is assumed that your personality develops and stays with you due to the conditions into which you were born and raised. These universal events then lead to a certain comparability of characteristics during each generation (Pekala, 2001). It does not matter whether you agree with the generation’s collective mind set or not, you will be influenced by it. Therefore generation researchers investigate how people were raised, what events they witnessed and what social missions they were given.
The starting and ending dates of the different generations are not exactly defined in the literature. Different authors give different years for the beginning and the end of the various generations. Generally the dates found in the literature are within a time-frame of +/- 3 years.
The literature defines four to five living generations (the names given may vary between authors). Also the description of the personalities of each generation may vary depending on the source. But overall the definitions are comparable. Some authors include “cusper” generations. Cuspers are those born in the transition period between one generation and another (i.e. on the cusp). Lancaster et al. (2002) assume that those born in between are actually a “generation” themselves, as they belong neither to the previous nor the next generation.
For the purpose of this model only those generations that are currently in employment are being considered. Furthermore the “cusper” generations will not be included in the research. This leaves the following generations:
Belonging to a generation does not mean that the individual always stays the same, it only says that the cohort will develop similarly during the lifecycle. The following chart shows that over the years the individuals will always belong to their cohort group no matter whether they were just born or are on their deathbed. They cannot get our of the generational group in which they were born into.
At any given time, the various generations will find themselves in a certain phase of their “life cycle”. Any occurrences at that moment in time will affect each generation differently. But again the whole generation cohort will be affected in a similar way as they are of comparable age. How the generations will cope with such an event will be different, even though it is happening at the same time.