Time Perspective and Vocational Identity Statuses of Emerging Adults

By Taber, Brian J.; Blankemeyer, Maureen S. | Career Development Quarterly, June 2015 | Go to article overview

Time Perspective and Vocational Identity Statuses of Emerging Adults


Taber, Brian J., Blankemeyer, Maureen S., Career Development Quarterly


Achievement of a vocational identity is an important developmental task for individuals entering adulthood. The present study examined relationships between vocational identity statuses and time perspective in a sample of 165 emerging adults. Results of a canonical correlation analysis identified 2 interpretable variates. The 1st variate indicated that diffuse vocational identity status is associated with negative views of the past and lower orientation toward the future. The 2nd variate indicated that achieved vocational identity is associated with a largely hedonic view of the present, along with being mindful and less inclined to be fatalistic. These results suggest that differing views on time perspective accounts for some of the variation in different vocational identity statuses. Interventions based on time perspective may prove useful in helping individuals attain an achieved vocational identity. Future research should examine how time perspective relates to vocational identity status in individuals at later stages of career development.

Keywords: vocational identity, time perspective, mindfulness, emerging adults, career development

For individuals between the ages of 18 and 25 years, the developmental period known as emerging adulthood, achieving a vocational identity is of great importance (Arnett, 2000). The achievement of a vocational identity is associated with career maturity (Graef, Wells, Hyland, & Muchinsky, 1985) and career decidedness (Chartrand, Robbins, Morrill, & Boggs, 1990; Vondracek, Schulenberg, Skorikov, Gillespie, & Wahlheim, 1995; Wanberg & Muchinsky, 1992) and is viewed as integral to self-directed career development (Hall, 2002) and employability (Fugate, Kinicki, & Ashforth, 2004). Because vocational identity is important in career decision making and career management, examining factors that differentiate among various identity statuses warrant investigation. Thus, the current study examines how time perspective-the nonconscious process whereby personal experiences are assigned to temporal frames that give order, coherence, and meaning to those experiences (Zimbardo & Boyd, 1999)-may account for variances among the vocational identity statuses of achievement, foreclosure, moratorium, and diffusion in emerging adults.

Time Perspective and Identity

Conceptually, the psychological aspects of time are integral to the formation of identity. Erikson (1968) viewed the synthesis and continuity of past, present, and future as important in identity formation. Similarly, based on his work with identity status interviews, Marcia (1993) indicated that one's outlook on the future can account for the variation in identity statuses. For example, people with a diffuse identity status, characterized by the absence of exploration and commitments and lacking a sense of identity, are likely to have little sense of the future and are primarily focused on the present. People with a foreclosed status, characterized by an absence of exploration and a conferred commitment by parents or other authority figures, see the future as a plan for life created by others that they seek to fulfill. In contrast, people with an identity achievement status, characterized by both exploration and commitment and having a self-constructed sense of identity, also tend to be focused on the future; however, it is a future that they have designed for themselves. People with a moratorium identity status, characterized by exploration without commitment, vacillate between the past and the future while they are simultaneously consumed with the present in the struggle for an identity.

Research has shown that time perspective is linked with identity statuses. For example, Rappaport, Enrich, and Wilson (1985) found that identity achievers and people in the moratorium status have a higher degree of futurity than do those who are in diffuse and foreclosed statuses. Pulkkinen and Rönkä (1994) also reported a positive relationship between identity achievement with clarity of future plans and evaluation of the future. …

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