Contributions of Family Factors to Career Readiness: A Cross-Cultural Comparison

By Fan, Weiqiao; Cheung, Fanny M. et al. | Career Development Quarterly, September 2014 | Go to article overview

Contributions of Family Factors to Career Readiness: A Cross-Cultural Comparison


Fan, Weiqiao, Cheung, Fanny M., Leong, Frederick T. L., Cheung, Shu Fai, Career Development Quarterly


The authors examined the contributions of perceived family intrusiveness to career decision-making difficulties (CDMD) and the mediating effect of family orientation as a personality trait in different cultural settings. In Study 1, a web-based survey of 1,563 Hong Kong college students showed that perceived family intrusiveness significantly contributed to CDMD. This relationship was mediated by the relational personality trait emphasizing family orientation. Study 2 compared this pattern of relationship between a Hong Kong sample of 392 college students and a U.S. sample of 367 college students. The mediation model was only supported in the Hong Kong sample. Specifically, although the contributions of family intrusiveness to CDMD were demonstrated across the 2 cultural settings, the significant influences of family orientation were only supported in the Hong Kong sample. Implications for career development and counseling with college students from different cultural backgrounds are discussed.

With the popularity of career counseling in the world (Leong & Pope, 2002), a growing literature examines the relationships between career decision-making difficulties (CDMD) and their antecedents, along with the corresponding implications for overcoming such difficulties in the course of career development (Leung, Hou, Gati, & Li , 2011). The effects of family process factors such as parental acceptance, family attachment, and family support/conflict on individuals' CDMD were found for various cultural samples, including European Americans, Asian American college students, and Greek adolescents (Kang, 2009; Koumoundourou, Tsaousis, & Kounenou, 2011; Rohner, Rising, & Sayre-Scibona, 2009). Would these family influences operate in the same way in different cultural contexts? So far, few studies have investigated associations between CDMD and family characteristics from a crosscultural perspective (Whiston & Keller, 2004).

Significant influences of personality traits on career decisions are generally documented in the literature. Using Western-based measures, most studies emphasized the contributions of the intrapersonal personality dimensions (e.g., the Five-Factor Model; McCrae & Terracciano, 2005) to career decisions and CDMD. For instance, Gati et al. (2011) demonstrated that neuroticism and agreeableness positively affected individuals' CDMD, whereas extraversion, openness, and conscientiousness were negatively related to CDMD. However, few studies have explored the influences of interpersonal personality traits, which are traditionally emphasized in collectivistic cultures and largely ignored by mainstream personality psychology (Morf, 2006), on career decision making. These interpersonal personality dimensions (e.g., family orientation and harmony) have recently been gaining attention across cultural settings (Cheung, van de Vijver, & Leong, 2011; Fan, Cheung, Leong, & Cheung, 2012; Liu, Friedman, & Chi, 2005).

The present study aims to fill the gap by focusing on the interpersonal dimensions of personality and family influences on career readiness. We report two studies that examined the contributions of family intrusiveness to CDMD in career readiness. Family orientation was included as an interpersonal personality trait highlighting individuals' orientation toward close family ties. We expected this trait would mediate the relationship between family intrusiveness and CDMD. We focused on the lack of readiness as a form of CDMD among college students during the periods of late adolescence and emerging adulthood. Study 1 explored the relationship in a Hong Kong college student sample. Study 2 further compared the pattern of relationships between Hong Kong and U.S. college students.

Family Intrusiveness, Family Orientation, and Career Decision Making

Yang (1992) argued that Chinese people have traditionally considered the family, rather than individuals, to be the basic unit for society's structure and function. …

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