Academic journal article Career Development Quarterly

Cross-Cultural Comparison of the Effects of Optimism, Intrinsic Motivation, and Family Relations on Vocational Identity

Academic journal article Career Development Quarterly

Cross-Cultural Comparison of the Effects of Optimism, Intrinsic Motivation, and Family Relations on Vocational Identity

Article excerpt

This study explored the effects of optimism, intrinsic motivation, and family relations on vocational identity in college students in the United States and South Korea. The results yielded support for the hypothesized multivariate model. Across both cultures, optimism was an important contributing factor to vocational identity, and intrinsic motivation partially mediated the link from optimism to vocational identity. In addition, family relations moderated the mediation effect of intrinsic motivation with American students but not Korean students. With Korean students, family relations moderated the direct link from optimism to vocational identity. These results have significant implications for counseling to promote vocational identity development for diverse college students.

Keyword?, vocational identity, cross-cultural comparison, optimism, intrinsic motivation, family relations

Vocational identity can be defined as the clarity and stability of people's interests and abilities and their capacity to explore, plan, and establish goals (Holland, Daiger, & Power, 1980). Super, Savickas, and Super (1996) observed that positive vocational identity serves as the foundation for making occupational choices that ensure optimal career development outcomes. Forming a vocational identity is essential because career construction is a subjective matter and "a reflection of oneself" (Savickas, 2005, p. 54).

Vocational identity development is related to several positive career outcomes, including career interest differentiation (Nauta & Kahn, 2007), exploratory behavior (Gushue, Scanlan, Pantzer, & Clarke, 2006), selfefficacy, and academic major-career congruence (Leong, 1998). Vocational identity is also positively related to psychological well-being; people with clear and stable career goals are more likely than those with diffuse and unstable goals to perceive a high degree of purpose in their lives (Strauser, Lustig, & Ciftci, 2008). Inhibited vocational identity development, in contrast, can lead to career indecision, role confusion, and negative mental health consequences such as depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem (Leong & Morris, 1989; Strauser et al., 2008). Thus, establishment of a robust vocational identity is essential for achieving positive career outcomes.

It is therefore important for career counselors to develop more powerful and targeted interventions to promote vocational identity development. Related to this goal, researchers have identified three sets of antecedents of vocational identity development. First, intrapersonal characteristics (e.g., personality traits) are related to vocational identity development. For example, Sweeney and Schill (1998) found that men with self-defeating personality characteristics tend to have poorly integrated vocational identities. Lopez (1989) reported that anxious students have ill-defined vocational identities. Conversely, researchers have discovered that college students with positive and flexible perspectives about self, others, and the future tend to report higher vocational identity development (Kelly & Shin, 2009; Patton, Bartrum, & Creed, 2005). It is important to better understand how personality characteristics are related to vocational identity development.

Second, relational influences are critical in vocational identity development (Skorikov & Vondracek, 2007). Multiple studies have highlighted the role of family relations in vocational identity development. For example, family-of-origin patterns (Hargrove, Inman, & Crane, 2005) and parental support for career (Alliman-Brissett, Turner, & Skovholt, 2004) are positively associated with identity commitment and career decisionmaking confidence. Furthermore, Schmitt- Rodermund and Vondracek (1999) reported that parent- child engagement in social activities is positively related to adolescent career exploration. Given that vocational identity is affected by family relations variables (Flum & Blustein, 2000), more research on the effects of family relations appears to be promising. …

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