Role Model Influence on the Career Decidedness of College Students

Article excerpt

The purpose of this study was to examine role-model influence on the career decidedness of college students within the context of the Social Learning Theory of Career Decision-Making (SLTCDM; Krumboltz, 1981). Participants (N=405) completed questionnaires regarding demographic information, identification of a role model, role-model supportiveness, role-model relationship quality, and career decidedness. Results of Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) indicated that role-model supportiveness and role-model relationship quality contributed significantly to the career decidedness of participants. Implications for career counselors were discussed.

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The college years are a crucial time for career-related decision-making. College students are faced with the need to choose an academic major as well as to develop career goals for the future (Guerra & Braungart-Rieker, 1999). Career indecision is often thought of as a developmental phase through which college students pass on the road to making a career choice (Gordon, 1998). Career indecision is negatively related to adjustment and well-being for college students (Kenny & Rice, 1995).

The Social Learning Theory of Career Decision-Making (SLTCDM; Krumboltz, 1981) provides a useful framework for organizing and explaining findings related to career decidedness. The SLTCDM applies social learning theory to the career realm, and emphasizes the importance of role models in career decision-making. Krumboltz asserts that career indecision is a consequence of unsatisfactory or insufficient opportunities for learning, including vicarious learning through role models (Krumboltz, 1981). The choice of role model involves factors such as similarity (e.g., same gender) and positive attributes of the model. Individuals are most likely to benefit from a supportive, high quality role model relationship. Benefits include greater readiness to make career decisions.

Research has shown an association between career decidedness and the influence of role models (Anderson, 1995; Ragins, 1997). Betz (1989) discussed the "null environment" in which career development is neither actively hindered nor promoted. She noted the importance of role models and mentors in facilitating positive career development, particularly for women (Betz, 1989). Mere exposure to role models is not always sufficient. Role model supportiveness and relationship quality are key characteristics of role model influence on career factors (Nauta, Epperson, & Kahn, 1998).

The purpose of this study is to extend the existing understanding of the influence of role models on college students' career decidedness. Specifically, the authors will investigate the role-model characteristics that help decrease career indecision among college men and women. It is hypothesized that role-model supportiveness and relationship quality will contribute to career decidedness.

Method

Participants

Participants were 405 (280 female, 125 male) volunteers from undergraduate psychology classes at a large southeastern university. Participants were between 18 and 25 years old. This age represents a crucial period of career and identity development, when students are likely to be making career decisions (Super, 1984). Of the 405 participants, 238 were Caucasian; 101 were African-American; 44 were Asian-American; and 22 were Native American or Latino/Latina.

Instruments

Demographic information. Gender, age, race, and other demographic information was collected with a general demographic questionnaire.

Career Decidedness. Career Decidedness was assessed using the Career Factors Inventory (CFI; Chartrand, Robbins, Morrill, & Boggs, 1990). The CFI is a 21-item scale that measures career indecision. Two-week test-retest reliability estimates for ranged from .79 to .84. Internal consistency estimates ranged from . …

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