The ‘Millennials are Entitled’ Myth Debunked


If I earned a cent, just a cent, every time I heard someone say “Millennials are an entitled bunch”, I’d be as rich as Kylie Jenner by now

And I hear it so much that I decided to write a blog post about it. It’s time I bust this myth wiiiiiiiiiiiiide open

First things first – you can’t objectify opinions like entitlement because it is an opinion…which is subjective. You see, anyone who calls Millennials entitled are looking at them through their own lens. They are referring to their experience of life and comparing it with the behaviours they observe of Millennials.

Now let me tell you something: Millennials are far from entitled. Rather, more than anything, this generation is the most Entrepreneurial in nature.

Let me explain…

According to the dictionary definition, Entitled means

verb (used with object), en·ti·tled, en·ti·tling.

to give (a person or thing) a title, right, or claim to something; furnish with grounds for laying claim:

Typically Millennials get labelled entitled by people when there is a mismatch in expectations, by people who have experienced a different set of rules. The common comment is that Millennials’ expectations are not ‘realistic’. 

But realistic according to whom?

The earlier generations experienced a completely different world from the ones Millennials were raised in. Hence, they tend to have a certain perception of the world that they grew up and worked in.

It was a time where …

  • The longer you work, the more hardworking you are
  • Ladies are not suited at the workplace and can’t drive cars (Seriously!)
  • The louder you spoke, the better leader you are
  • To be an Entrepreneur, you must have been a school dropout
  • The older you are, the more experienced and more matured you are

So it’s easy to see how Millennials can get boxed in on a stereotype when they have different expectations from their career.  Think about it, the earliest Baby Boomers probably started working since the early sixties! The world they lived in back then is very different from today.

Status-Co Bias

In one psychology experiment, participants were given a hypothetical scenario: inheriting a large sum of money. They were then instructed to decide how to invest the money by making a selection from a series of fixed options. However, some participants were given a neutral version of the scenario, while others were given a status quo bias version.

In the neutral version, the participants were only told that they inherited money and that they needed to choose from a series of investment options. In this version, all the choices were equally valid; the preference for things to remain as they are was not a factor because there was no prior experience to draw upon.In the status quo version, the participants were told they inherited money and the money was already invested in a specific way.

They were then presented with a set of investment options. One of the options retained the portfolio’s current investment strategy (and thus occupied the status quo position). All of the other options on the list represented alternatives to the status quo.

Researchers Samuelson and Zeckhauser found that, when presented with the status quo version of the scenario, participants tended to choose the status quo over the other options. That strong preference held across a number of different hypothetical scenarios. In addition, the more choices presented to participants, the greater their preference for the status quo.

Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t

When given a choice to adopt, change, or remain the same, we go with what we’re familiar with. In fact, we defend the world we’re familiar with by attacking the ones who propose to change it.
Isn’t it easier to stay in your comfort zone than to embrace change and go through a whole lot? So it’s not surprising to see Millennials get labelled being ‘Entitled’ for the things they ask for

Stories turn into Stereotypes…that stick

But the reality is this: when expectations don’t match, people tend to gossip. And they talk about the very person who’s giving them problems. We all do it, don’t we? It’s only natural to complain about the problems we have to the people who understand us. When that happens, it creates an in-group bias. Stories turn into stereotypes that stick.

But hey, Millennials were raised in a better world

Millennials were born and raised in an era where they were pretty well provided for. The Baby Boomers made it a point to raise their Millennials as their friend. It’s Peer-enting, rather than parenting. Baby Boomers are also known as the set of Helicopter parents who would hover around their child to help them in any way they can. Basically, this generation of parents wanted their children to be seen, and heard.

Common Sense isn’t Common

Growing up, Millennials have had unprecedented access to information compared to any other generation before them. They had all the answers to their questions curated into a blank search box in the palm of their hand. And they were the first to feel the impact of that access. It has shaped their perspectives, expectations, and behaviours. It has changed how Millennials do job search, buy stuff, socialise, travel, and how they entertain themselves. 

The common sense they bring in to organisations is seen as a challenge to the status quo to the older generations. Millennials have had access and it has empowered them in many ways.  

  • Access has had entrepreneurs and business owners reimagining what’s possible
  • Access is putting stress on organisations who are unfamiliar with all the new changes coming in with this generation
  • Access has made learning possible, anywhere around the world
  • Access has provided paradigm shifts in thinking for many 
  • Access has empowered the consumer
  • Access is revolutionising industries 
  • Access has changed the world
  • Access means Millennials don’t have to rely on their seniors for information

Millennials can be Entrepreneurial..if you give them the chance

Millennials have so much to contribute. They have spent more time on technology and are in online communities that are constantly giving them the information they can use to improve the current systems. Think of it like a software update you get on a smartphone every year or two. They keep learning on-the-go. What they need is a sandbox environment where their ideas can be tested and experimented with. And that begins by doing away with the judgements first.

The way to move forward is to put aside the biases and stereotypes and keep an open mind on what this generation can contribute. Gone are the days where the older you are, the more mature you are. Personally I’ve met young people who are very matured for their age and some seniors who have zero sense of maturity. I’m sure you have too, now that you think about it.

We need to stop hanging on to old belief systems and bring in the new. Mix and mash it and take what works. Try something new, fail, and then try again. It’s a process and a mindset coupled together. The world is changing at rapid speeds today, and if we don’t change along with it, if we hide behind blaming, complaining or giving excuses to avoid change, we will be ones left behind. 

Hiding behind an ‘Entitlement’ stereotype does no one any good.

P.S – Did you like this article? Share your thoughts and send this to someone who believes Millennials are entitled

About the author


VIVEK IYYANI is a Millennial Specialist and Keynote Speaker at Millennial Minds Pte Ltd. He is the Author of the book Empowering Millennials and Engaging Millennials and has spoken at organisations like Oracle, Julius Bär, the Brunei Government,, Singapore General Hospital, Singapore Police Force, Johnson & Johnson, DELTA Airlines, and many more. He has been featured by the National Population and Talent Division (NPTD) under the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) to feature in a video of #MySingaporeStory. He has also appeared on Channel NewsAsia twice as a guest on the Millennial topic and on local media such as Vasantham TV Channel and Oli 96.8FM Radio. Vivek is known in his industry to speak at conferences on how to engage the young generation to work at their peak potential.


Bias, Millennials, stereotypes

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