The IDEA: Inventory of the Dimensions of Emerging Adulthood


Six sections follow below:

  • The IDEA instrument may be used freely -- there is no need to ask for permission.

  • Please cite the instrument as: Reifman, A., Arnett, J.J., & Colwell, M.J. (2007, Summer). Emerging adulthood: Theory, assessment, and application. Journal of Youth Development, 2(1). The article can be obtained at this link.
  • We also have a longer, unpublished manuscript in which we provide more extensive psychometric information than in the JYD article; a copy of this paper is available on Dr. Reifman's Research Gate profile.
  • Baggio and colleagues (2014) have published an 8-item short form of the IDEA (abstract)

   Views of Life Survey

  • First, please think about this time in your life. By “time in your life,” we are referring to the present time, plus the last few years that have gone by, and the next few years to come, as you see them. In short, you should think about a roughly five-year period, with the present time right in the middle.
  • For each phrase shown below, please place a check mark in one of the columns to indicate the degree to which you agree or disagree that the phrase describes this time in your life. For example, if you “Somewhat Agree” that this is a “time of exploration,” then on the same line as the phrase, you would put a check mark in the column headed by “Somewhat Agree” (3).
  • Be sure to put only one check mark per line.
Is this period of your life a… Strongly 
1. time of many possibilities?        
2. time of exploration?        
3. time of confusion?        
4. time of experimentation?        
5. time of personal freedom?        
6. time of feeling restricted?        
7. time of responsibility for yourself?        
8. time of feeling stressed out?        
9. time of instability?        
10. time of optimism?        
11. time of high pressure?        
12. time of finding out who you are?        
13. time of settling down?        
14. time of responsibility for others?        
15. time of independence?        
16. time of open choices?        
17. time of unpredictability?        
18. time of commitments to others?        
19. time of self-sufficiency?
20. time of many worries?        
21. time of trying out new things?        
22. time of focusing on yourself?        
23. time of separating from parents?        
24. time of defining yourself?        
25. time of planning for the future?        
26. time of seeking a sense of meaning?        
27. time of deciding on your own beliefs and values?        
28. time of learning to think for yourself?        
29. time of feeling adult in some ways but not others?        
30. time of gradually becoming an adult?        
31. time of being not sure whether you have reached full adulthood?        

Subscale Items to Average
Identity Exploration 12, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28
Experimentation/Possibilities   1, 2, 4, 16, 21
Negativity/Instability 3, 6, 8, 9, 11, 17, 20
Other-Focused 13, 14, 18
Self-Focused 5, 7, 10, 15, 19, 22
Feeling "In-Between" 29, 30, 31

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) on Analyzing the IDEA

Are there any scoring cut-offs for saying that someone meets a threshold for being considered an "emerging adult"?
  • No. We have never established any cut-off scores to say that someone is (or is not) an emerging adult. Instead, we would just say that people show more or less of the characteristics of emerging adulthood.
Can one use a total score for the IDEA, adding all the subscale scores together?
  • Yes, one can. If you do, be sure not to include the "Other Focus," as it is only a supplemental subscale and its meaning is opposite in direction to the other subscales (i.e., developing a sense of "other focus" likely signifies that one is progressing beyond the EA feature of "self focus"). Also, you may want to check the correlations between the subscales. If they're pretty high (e.g., .6, .7), as they sometimes are, that will strengthen your argument for computing a grand total. Another option, used by a graduate student I advised on her dissertation, is to create an Emerging Adulthood latent construct in structural equation modeling, using the subscales as manifest indicators.
Is it OK to translate the IDEA into other languages?
  • Yes. As shown below in the next section of this webpage, the IDEA has already been translated into many languages. All we ask is that you notify us and keep us informed during the process (e-mail Dr. Reifman). Maybe one day we'll be adding your version to the reference list below!  

Languages into which the IDEA measure has been translated (19)
(Article references below for Bulgarian, Chinese, Czech, Dutch, Estonian, French, German [2 articles], Greek [2 articles], Italian, Japanese, Macedonian, Malay, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Slovak, Spanish [4 articles], Turkish)

Arias, D.F., & Hernandez, A.M. (2007). Emerging Adulthood in Mexican and Spanish youth. Theories and realities. Journal of Adolescent Research, 22, 476-503.  (Spanish)

"Our survey was based on the Inventory of Dimensions of Emerging Adulthood (Reifman, Arnett, & Colwell, 2006), as well as on the principal ideas and affirmations of Arnett’s theoretical proposals of the emerging adulthood period (Arnett, 2000; 2004)" (pp. 482-483).

Atak, H., & Çok, F. (2008).  The Turkish version of Inventory of the Dimensions of Emerging Adulthood (The IDEA). International Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences, 2, 148-154. 

Crocetti, E., Tagliabue, S., Sugimura, K., Nelson, L.J., Takahashi, A., Niwa, T., Sugiura, Y., & Jinno, M. (2015). Perceptions of emerging adulthood: A study with Italian and Japanese university students and young workers.  Emerging Adulthood, 3, 229-243. (These authors shortened the IDEA to 15 items.)

Duris, J. (2009). Erleben des Erwachsenwerdens und Bewertung von alltäglichen Risikosituationen (Experience of growing up and evaluation of everyday risk situations; from Google Translate). Thesis, University of Vienna (Wien). (German). Actual German items are available by clicking on the title and scrolling down to page 255 when the new document opens; see "Deutsche Version der Merkmale von Emerging Adulthood – 2. Version (IDEA-G2). "  

Dutra-Thomé, L. (2013). Emerging Adulthood in southern Brazilians from differing socioeconomic status: Social and subjective markers. Doctoral dissertation, Universidade Federal Do Rio Grande Do Sul (Portuguese).

Facio, A., Resett, S., Micocci, F., & Mistrorigo, C. (2007). Emerging Adulthood in Argentina: An age of diversity and possibilities. Child Development Perspectives, 1, 115–118.  (Spanish)

Galanaki, E., & Sideridis, G. (2018). Dimensions of emerging adulthood, criteria for adulthood, and identity development in Greek studying youth: A person-centered approach. Emerging Adulthood. Published online-first on May 22, 2018. (Greek)

Hill, J. M., Lalji, M., van Rossum, G., van der Geest, V. R., & Blokland, A. A. J. (2015). Experiencing emerging adulthood in the Netherlands. Journal of Youth Studies. (Dutch)

Кlementyeva, М. V. (2023). The Russian version of Inventory of the Dimensions of Emerging Adulthood (the IDEA-R): Developmental features of university students.

Kolevska, A. (2017). Dimensions of emerging adulthood and a sense of adulthood in Macedonian emerging adults. Master's thesis, Ss. Cyril and Methodius University, Skopje.

Kuang, J. et al. (2023). Psychometric evaluation of the Inventory of Dimensions of Emerging Adulthood (IDEA) in China. International Journal of Clinical and Health Psychology, 23, Article No. 100331. (doi)

Lanctot, J., & Poulin, F. (in-press). Emerging adulthood features and adjustment: A person-centered approach. Emerging Adulthood. Published online-first at (French)

Leontopoulou, S., Mavridis, D. & Giotsa, A. (2016). Psychometric properties of the Greek Inventory of the Dimensions of Emerging Adulthood (IDEA): University student perceptions of developmental features. Journal of Adult Development, 23, 226-244.

Macek, P., Bejcek, J., & Vanickova, J. (2007) Contemporary Czech emerging adults: Generation growing up in the period of social changes. Journal of Adolescent Research, 22, 444-475.

"The construction of our self-devised questionnaire was inspired by the Inventory of the Dimensions of Emerging Adulthood (IDEA) questionnaire (Reifman, Arnett, & Colwell, 2003) measuring five variables relevant to essential qualities of emerging adulthood: identity exploration, experimentation/possibilities, negativity/instability, other/self-focused, and feeling “in-between” (cf. Arnett, 2004). Even though we assumed that these main features would also pertain to the Czech population, we decided to formulate our own items that are more relevant to the Czech cultural environment and the everyday experience of young Czechs. Thus, the final version of the questionnaire consisted of 31 items relating both to the dimensions mentioned above and, further on, to the determination of commitments and personal responsibility" (p. 449).

Negru, O. (2012). The time of your life: Emerging adulthood characteristics in a sample of Romanian high-school and university students. Cognitie, Creier, Comportament (Cognition, Brain, Behavior).

Papazova, E. (2016). Balgarska adaptatsiya na vaprosnik za izmervane na vaznikvashtata zrelost (IDEA) [Bulgarian adaptation of the Inventory of the Dimensions of Emerging Adulthood (IDEA)]. Psychological Research, 2, 15-25.

Pérez, J. C., P. Cumsille, & M. L. Martinez. (2008, March). Construct validity of the Inventory of Dimensions of Emerging Adulthood in a Chilean sample. Poster presented at the biennial meeting of the Society for Research on Adolescence, Chicago, IL. (
Spanish). Described in Hill et al. article above.

Pucher, M., Rollett, B., & Werneck, H. (2008).  Einflussfaktoren auf die identitätsentwicklung in der adoleszenz (Impact factors on the development of identity in adolescence). Tagung der Österreichischen Gesellschaft für Psychologie (Meeting of the Austrian Society for Psychology, Linz, Austria). (German abstract available here)

"Die Identitätsentwicklung der Jugendlichen wurde mittels einer übersetzten, leicht adaptierten und erweiterten Version des Fragebogens 'Inventory of the Dimensions of Emerging Adulthood' (IDEA; Reifman, Arnett & Colwell, 2003) und mit dem Identitätsstatusdiagnoseinventar (ISDI, basierend auf dem Konzept von Marcia) erhoben."

Translated by a colleague as: "Adolescents' identity development was assessed with a translated, lightly adapted, and expanded version of the 'Inventory of the Dimensions of Emerging Adulthood' (IDEA; Reifman, Arnett, & Colwell, 2003) and an inventory assessing identity status, that was on the concept of Marcia."

Sánchez-Queija, I., Parra, Á. , Camacho, C., & Arnett, J. (in press). Spanish version of the Inventory of the Dimensions of Emerging Adulthood (IDEA-S). Emerging Adulthood. Published online-first in 2018 at doi: 10.1177/2167696818804938

Tomczyk, Ł., Vanek, B., Pavlov, I., Karikova, S., Biresova, B., & Kryston, M. (2018). Critical thinking, problem-solving strategies and individual development assessment among NEETs  research conducted in Slovakia, Poland and Estonia. International Journal of Lifelong Education, 118. doi:10.1080/02601370.2018.1550446 (LINK) [NEET stands for "not in employment, education or training"]

Wider, W., Bullare@Bahari, F., Mustapha, M., & Halik, M. H. (2016). Investigating the measurement of Malay version of Inventory of Dimensions of Emerging Adulthood (M-IDEA) among first year university students in Malaysia. International Journal of Current Research, 8, 29878-29884.

Click here to visit Dr. Reifman's Emerging Adulthood blog.