Date of release: Monday, May 9, 2011


Quarterlife crises can be good for you.

This is the finding of Dr Oliver Robinson and researchers from the University of Greenwich and Birkbeck College who presented their findings at the British Psychological Society Annual Conference held in Glasgow on Thursday May 5.

Dr Oliver Robinson, Senior Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Greenwich’s School of Health & Social Care and his colleagues interviewed 50 people aged between 25 and 35 about their experiences of crises occurring in early adulthood. Themes from the interviews were identified and developed into a model of quarterlife crisis which follows a four phase structure similar to those described in literature on mid-life crises, but occurring much earlier.

“Quarterlife crises don’t happen literally a quarter way through your life”, explained Dr Oliver Robinson, “They occur a quarter of your way through adulthood, in the period between 25 and 35, although they cluster around 30.”

A quarterlife crisis involves a difficult separation from a job, relationship or both, and tends to take two years on average.

Phase 1 is defined by feeling “locked in” to a job or relationship or both.

“It’s an illusory sense of being trapped” said Dr Robinson, “you can leave but you feel you can’t.”

Phase 2 is a rising sense that change is possible, along with a mental and physical separation from previous commitments.

Dr Robinson continued: “This leads to all sorts of emotional upheavals. It allows exploration of new possibilities with a closer link to interests, preferences and sense of self. Up until then you may be driving fast down a road you don’t want to be going down. A minority of participants described getting caught in a loop, but the majority reflected on a difficult time which was a catalyst for important positive change.”

Phase 3 is a period of rebuilding a new life.

Phase 4 involves developing new commitments that are more in tune with personal interests, aspirations and values.

The research suggested that once the four phases are resolved the crisis can be positive.

“This is the first research which has looked at quarterlife crises from a solid empirical angle based on data rather than speculation. The results will help to reassure those people who are experiencing this transition that it is a commonly experienced part of early adult life, and that there is a proven pattern of positive change that results from it.”

For further information and photos of Dr Oliver Robinson please contact:

Nick Davison

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