This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Exploring the Minds of Emerging Adults: A Quantitative Investigation into Risky Behavior




Shields, Julian

Type of Degree

PhD Dissertation


Special Education, Rehabilitation, Counseling


Emerging adulthood is a term used in the U.S. that describes the period of human development that begins in the late teens and continues through the late twenties, with a focus on the ages 18 to 25 years. Five key characteristics comprise emerging adulthood: identity exploration, instability, self-focus, feeling “in between,” and possibilities. Each of these characteristics can also serve as a barrier to an individual successfully reaching adulthood, increasing one’s likelihood of engaging in risky behavior. A total of 151 college students participated in the current investigation, and each participant completed the Career Thoughts Inventory (CTI) and the Risky, Impulsive, and Self-Destructive Behavior Questionnaire (RISQ). Participants also provided demographic data. A primary conclusion is that there were statistically significant relationships among the dependent variables (i.e., risky behaviors measured by the RISQ, career thoughts measured by CTI) and independent variables (i.e., receiving services from the University’s Office of Accessibility, race, sex, classification). In addition, there were statistically significant relationships for at least 50% of the questions in relation to CTI scores and engagement in risky behavior over the course of a lifetime in the following domains: (a) drug behaviors, (b) risky sexual behaviors, (c) heavy alcohol use, (d) self-harm, (e) impulsive eating, and (f) reckless behaviors.