This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

An Examination of Emerging Adults’ Career Development




Cobb, Megan

Type of Degree



Counseling Psychology


Emerging adulthood has been posited as a new developmental phase in which the individual has graduated from adolescence but has not yet accomplished milestones traditionally associated with adulthood (e.g., beginning a long-term partnership, having a family, starting a career). Despite increased numbers of young people who are delaying adulthood in one way or another, research on career development during emerging adulthood is lacking. The present study investigated the career decision self-efficacy of those who perceive themselves as emerging adults compared to their same-aged counterparts who feel they have reached adulthood. It also examined whether or not themes of emerging adulthood (e.g., few responsibilities) apply to making career decisions, as well as the extent to which emerging adults and adults differ in their perceptions of adulthood and career (i.e., endorsement of myths and negative beliefs related to adulthood and career). The present study also assessed whether or not those who perceive themselves as adults actually differ in levels of exploration and responsibility, which are said to distinguish between these stages, from those who do not yet feel that they have reached adulthood. Lastly, it examined whether or not emerging adults and adults differ in scores on the Inventory of the Dimensions of Emerging Adulthood (IDEA), a measure designed to assess the presence of emerging adult themes in an individual’s current period of life.