Perceived Entitlement Among Amillenials Versus Baby Boomers: A Cross-Generational Examination

Eliza Comer, Utah State University


As the Millennial workforce grows, understanding how Millennials are viewed specifically in terms of entitlement - is an issue that merits attention, since perceived entitlement could negatively impact the extent to which an individual's contributions are valued in the workplace. While prior research suggests that Millennials are entitled (Allen 2015; Fisk 2010; Myers 2010), it neglects how perceptions of entitlement may differ across generations. We aim to address this gap by examining whether Baby Boomers and Millennials differ in their perceptions of what constitutes entitled behavior. Specifically, we test whether an individual's age, together with situational factors, may influence the extent to which an identical behavior is perceived as entitled.

We addressed our research question in three stages that involved multiple research methods. First, we reviewed the existing literature on entitlement to better understand what behaviors are typical of individuals who are viewed as entitled. Second, we conducted exploratory research to understand qualitative differences that may exist in perceptions of entitlement by running four focus groups comprised of either Baby Boomers or Millennials. Third, leveraging the focus group findings, we performed an experiment involving over 400 participants across the United States to test our hypotheses regarding generational differences in perceptions of entitlement.

Consistent with prior research that Millennials are more entitled than other generations, our focus group results suggested that Millennials are viewed as more entitled than other generations, both by themselves and by Baby Boomers. Similarly, our experimental results did not reveal a difference across generations in perceptions of what constitutes entitled behavior. Together, these findings suggest that behaviors judged to constitute entitlement are viewed similarly across generations, and may be exhibited more frequently among Millennial s than Baby Boomers.