This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Career Decision-Making: Implications for Emerging Adults’ Career Identity Development




Stringer, Kate

Type of Degree



Human Development and Family Studies


Identity exploration in the areas of work and love is theorized to be salient in emerging adulthood, and therefore, commitments often are delayed (Arnett, 2000). The exploration that takes place during adolescence and emerging adulthood sets the foundation for identity commitments made during emerging adulthood and adulthood. Identity commitments have been found to be important for emotional adjustment, well-being, and satisfaction (Berzonsky, 2003; Meeus, Iedema, Maassen, & Engels, 2005; Peronne, ?gisdóttir, Webb, & Blalock, 2006). The question the current study aims to answer is “To what extent do factors related to family processes and career decision-making influence engagement in career identity development?” Four hundred ninety one students at a 4-year university and a 2-year community college completed surveys that examined positive family functioning, parental support for career, work experience, career decision self-efficacy, vocational identity, priority for career, and career identity development (i.e., identification with career and career exploration in depth). It was predicted that career decision-making would mediate the relationship between career identity development and parental support for career and positive family functioning. Two moderated relationships also were anticipated. Gender was predicted to moderate the relationship between anticipated priority for career and career identity development; educational pathway (2-year terminal, 2-year continuing, 4-year transfer, and 4-year university) was predicted to moderate the relationship between career decision-making and career identity development. Structural equation modeling was used to examine the predicted model. Results showed that a trimmed model, which excluded vocational identity and positive family functioning, fit well for the full sample, as well as both 2-year groups, and the 4-year university group. Career decision self-efficacy partially mediated the relationship between parental support for career and career identity development, and career decision self-efficacy fully mediated the relationship between relevant work experience and career identity development for the full sample. Moderation was not supported; however, the pattern of results suggested that the career identity development process may vary somewhat for different groups of emerging adults.