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Figure 1: Average Scores on Model Variables by

Career Choice: The Intersection of Identity and Purpose in Adolescence Identity Status
Figure 1a: Gender
Jessica Ross, B.S., & Carolyn Barber, Ph.D.
University of MissouriKansas City

Introduction Method Figure 1b: Purpose


The majority of U.S. adolescents pursue post-secondary education, giving new 127 undergraduate students between the ages of 18 and 21 from a mid-size Midwestern university who were
importance to the consideration of developmental and educational trajectories of solicited for participation through the universitys Undergraduate Psychology Participation Pool.
students today (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014). Collegiate study provides
students the opportunity to take a period of self-exploration to decide what These students self-identified in the following ways:
matters to them personally and socially; one important outcome of self- 70 Freshmen, 33 Sophomore, 14 Junior, 10 Senior
exploration is the selection of the college major and future career path (Arnett, 83 Females, 44 Males
2000). 65% Caucasian, 18% Black/African American, 9% Asian/Pacific Islander, 6% Latino/Latina, 2% other
94% Heterosexual, 4% Bisexual, 2% Gay
Positive identity development has positive psychosocial benefits for individuals,
Existential Anxiety (Existential Anxiety Questionnaire; Weems et al., 2004)( = .80) 13 item true-false scale Figure 1c: Existential Anxiety
and such benefits may be a function of the correlation between identity
commitment and purpose, in that finding a purpose may resolve identity crises that assesses the degree to which participants endorse Tillichs domains of existential anxiety. Sample item: I
(Hill & Burrow, 2012; Rubini & Meeus, 2008). often think about death and this causes me anxiety. Higher scores indicate more experiences of anxiety.
Marcia (1966) adapted Eriksons (1956) theoretical concepts of identity Purpose (Purpose in Life Scale; Robbins & Francis, 2000)( = .94): 12 item, 5 point Likert type scale that
achievement and identity diffusion into four distinct identity groups assesses the degree to which adolescent participants feel their life has purpose. Sample item: My life has
(achievement, diffusion, foreclosure, and moratorium) that are measured along clear goals and aims. Higher scores indicate higher endorsement of purpose.
continuums of identity exploration and identity commitment. Marcia cites Declared major is assessed by dichotomous (yes/no) responses to the question: Have you selected a college
obtaining a career as one of the hallmarks of an achieved identity; an major? Higher scores indicate a declaration of major. Figure 1d: Interest
achievement that allows the individual to create a reciprocal relationship with
Career motivation and interest are assessed in two questions with an open-ended qualitative response
society and maintain a feeling of continuity within himself.
option, coded using a response scheme by Yeager, Bundick, & Johnson (2012). Career interest is derived from
Career decisional patterns mapped onto four clusters nearly identical in nature to whether or not a participant endorses an intrinsic or extrinsic interest for their major or career (higher scores
the identity statuses proposed by Marcia (1966) (Germeijs et al., 2012). Like the indicate intrinsic interest), whereas career motivation is derived from whether or not major and career
psychosocial benefits of achieving an identity status, the career achievement interests are catered to both beyond-the-self interests or a combination of self- and beyond-the-self interests,
cluster of students (those who had high scores on career decisional status and or no endorsement of interest or self-interests alone. Higher scores indicate a beyond-the-self orientation.
commitment and high scores on environmental and self-exploration) in this study If you have declared a major, what aspects of this major appealed to you when you made your decision?
showed the most positive pattern of academic functioning, academic adjustment, What aspects of your anticipated future career appealed to you when you decided to pursue this career? Figure 1e: Motivation
and social adjustment. Those who were defined as in moratorium or diffused
in terms of career decision-making were least adaptive on these measures. Identity Exploration and Commitment (Ego Identity Process Questionnaire; Balistreri et al., 1995)( = .76 for
Commitment, .74 for Exploration): 32 item, 6 point Likert scale measure that assesses participants degrees of
Students who reported that they had not yet decided on a course of study or
identity exploration and identity commitment in two subscales. Sample items: I have considered different
career goal endorsed less purposefulness than their peers with career goals,
political views thoughtfully. (Exploration) My ideas about mens and womens roles will never change.
supporting the idea that committing to a career path is one determinant of
(Commitment). Scores on these two subscales are converted into Marcias four identity domains through
purpose in the life of a collegiate student (Ross & Barber, 2015).
median split on both subscales.
Berman et al. (2006) indicates that the majority of adolescents deliberate
existential themes, and that existential anxiety is inversely correlated with
identity commitment and positively associated with identity exploration; using
Results Figure 1f: Declared Major
Marcias (1966) identity status paradigm, these results are consistent with the A discriminant function analysis was done with all predictor variables entered in one step to assess how well
idea that existential anxiety is related to a moratorium state of identity Marcias identity statuses could be predicted by scores on six variables commonly thought to be associated
development that may impact career decision-making. with career identity development.
Given the literature establishing relationships between these variables and The Box M test for possible violation of the homogeneity of within-group variance/covariance matrices was
identity outcomes, the current study aims to establish which of these variables judged to be non-significant (M = 30.06, F(21, 9933) = 1.30, p = .16.
are most important to identity development as defined by Marcia (1966). The test of Wilks Lambda indicates that the combined predictive value of the three discriminant functions are
statistically significant ( = .727, X2[18] = 38.60, p = .003), and indicates that 27% of the variance on the three
Research Question discriminant functions, considered jointly, is associated with between group differences. However, the Discussion
Which career-identity variables (gender, existential anxiety, purpose, career predictive value for functions 2 and 3 are non-significant. Discrimination between Marcias identity statuses is primarily
interest, career motivation, and declaration of major) are useful in discriminating The nature of the pattern of scores indicates that high scores on purpose, existential anxiety, and interest driven by three career-related variables: Purposefulness, existential
between Marcias identity statuses? correspond with high scores on the first discriminant function. Function 2, although non-significant when anxiety, and career interest (whether the interest towards a chosen
assessed in isolation, corresponds with declaring a college major and endorsing a beyond-the-self orientation major/career is extrinsic or intrinsic).
Table 1: Summary of Functions at Group Centroids
toward careers. Additionally, while discriminant function three is non-significant when interpreted in isolation, Taken together, the three functions correctly predict identity status
Identity Status Function 1 Function 2 Function 3 this function is primarily driven by gender (in particular, identifying as female). 56% of the time, and can most accurately differentiate between
Achieved .58 .08 -.44 individuals experiencing foreclosure than those who are not (with
Table 2: Summary of Structured Discriminant Function Coefficients 89% accuracy). These functions cannot differentiate between
Diffused -.73 -.31 -.07 Variable Function 1 Function 2 Function 3 Univariate F p Value for F achieved individuals and those with other identity statuses (0%
accuracy.)
Moratorium -.38 .48 .04 Gender .37 .37 .41 2.53 .060
Purpose .75 -.43 .22 6.38 < .001 These results indicate that when mental health and educational
Foreclosed .36 -.09 .11 professionals work with collegiate students deliberating career
Existential Anxiety .58 -.43 -.15 3.93 .010
concerns, that special attention should be given towards assessing
Acknowledgements Interest .53 .52 -.40 3.81 .012
feelings of purpose, existential anxiety, and expressions of career
Financial support for this convention presentation was provided by the Hazel Motivation .19 .22 .19 .53 .661 interest.
Knutson Award, UMKC Womens Council Graduate Assistance Fund. Declared Major .17 .62 -.17 1.47 .227