Academic journal article Career Development Quarterly

Factors Influencing the Career Decision Status of Chinese American Youths

Academic journal article Career Development Quarterly

Factors Influencing the Career Decision Status of Chinese American Youths

Article excerpt

The purpose of this study was to understand how intergenerational family conflict and relational-interdependent self-construal influence the career decision status of Chinese American youths. Participants were 129 Chinese American youths, with ages ranging from 14 to 21 years. Results from regression analysis indicated that high intergenerational family conflict was predictive of career indecision. High relational-interdependent self-construal, on the other hand, was predictive of career certainty. Implications for counseling and future research are also discussed.

Selecting a career can be a daunting task for many Chinese American youths who must balance their own interests with what is acceptable to their parents (Leong & Serafica, 1995). Career decision making is especially challenging for youths if their immigrant parents believe that only certain careers will lead their children to success. Due to the influx of Chinese immigrants into the United States (U.S. Census Bureau, 2000), counseling professionals are increasingly likely to encounter firstor second-generation Chinese American youths seeking career guidance, because they tend to present with career concerns rather than personal problems (Tracey, Leong, & Glidden, 1986); therefore, it is important to gain a better understanding of the variables that influence their career decision-making process. In this study, we sought to understand how intergenerational family conflict and relationalinterdependent self-construal (defined as the tendency to think of oneself in terms of close others) influence the career decision status of Chinese American youths.

Career decision status'is defined as the certainty or indecision about one's career choice (Osipow, Carney, Winer, Yanico, & Koschier, 1976). Certainty and indecision are two variables that have been designed to assess career decision status. Career certainty refers to one's degree of certainty of having made a career decision. Career indecision refers to an inability to make a decision about the career that one wishes to pursue (Guay, Senécal, Gauthier, & Fernet, 2003). Career decision status has been used to assess an individual's career maturity (Crites, 1978; Levinson, Ohler, Caswell, & Kiewra, 1998; Patton & Creed, 2001). Lopez and Andrews (1987) suggested that career indecision was related to inadequate psychological separation of adolescents from their parents. Because many Western cultures consider independence from parents to be a major developmental task, it is likely that career counselors would view those who are not able to make independent career choice as less mature in terms of their career development (Leong, 1991 ). For example, because Asian Americans are more likely to follow their parents' suggestion for a career, they may be perceived as less career mature compared with their peers (Leong & Hardin, 2002).

The idea of career maturity can certainly lead to a biased perception of Asian American adolescents. Previous studies suggest that Asian American college students demonstrated career attitudes that were less mature compared with their European American peers (Hardin, Leong, & Osipow, 2001; Leong, 1991 ). However, Hardin et al. suggested that because the definition and measurement of career maturity were grounded in White middle-class norms, they may not be valid for Asian Americans. Leong and Hardin stated that when examining the cultural validity of career development theories that are based on Western values, variables that are more specific to each culture should be considered.

Because career decision status is an important component of career maturity, the current study was an attempt to understand career decision status from a perspective that is meaningful for Asian Americans. The first step was to identify culturally responsive variables that might influence career indecision and career certainty within cultural group. Due to the strong emphasis on family involvement (Leong & Hardin, 2002) and the collectivistic value orientation (Leong & Tata, 1990) in Chinese cultures, we decided to examine how family and one's notion of self as inextricably linked to others (Markus & Kitayama, 1991) influence Chinese youths' career decision status. …

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