Generation study - Ageing between openness and preservation

On average, at the age of 33, people stop discovering new music. A GDI study investigating this transition will be published in 2020.


Stereotypical descriptions of an entire generation such as “Generation Golf,” or Generation “X” or „Easy Jet“ are popular. However, this  assumes attributions apply to all members of that generation. In addition, it is assumed generational differences are based on stable personality traits. However, life  circumstances are not taken into account. It is possible younger people are not more critical of possessions like cars and  detached houses, but simply cannot afford them.

This study looks at ageing from a different perspective. A process-oriented approach defines youth as “a phase of growth” and old age as “a phase of preservation”: essentially, young people want to learn new things and gain experience, while older people don't want to lose acquired experiences and skills.

An analysis of Spotify data is revealing: Around age 33, people stop discovering new music. Here, living conditions seem to be more important than belonging to a particular generation. Yet some may become explorative even after the preservation phase.

The GDI’s new generation study addresses this shift. It examines the circumstances under which people stop being open and curious, explore, grow, and learn and move on to attachment, preservation, perseverance and protection. Are personality traits, financial opportunities or educational opportunities more relevant to this openness than ageing?

A quantitative survey of youth and seniors  in Switzerland and Germany provides the basic data for the study, which will be published in Spring 2020.