Family of origin influences on the career development of young adults: The relative contributions of social status and family support
Metheny, Jennifer R.
The family of origin plays a pivotal role in the career development process. The purpose of this study was to better understand the role of both family social status and family process (e.g., parenting behaviors) in the career development of young adults. Social status was measured using both a traditional, objective index (Socioeconomic Index) and a more recently developed subjective measure (Differential Status Identity Scale). Family process was examined using the variables of perceived and enacted family support. A model capturing the relationship among these variables was proposed based upon Social Cognitive Career Theory, with career decision-making self-efficacy and career-related outcome expectations serving as the social-cognitive outcome variables. A path analysis was conducted to explore the fit of the model and the relative contributions of the status and process variables to the career development outcomes. Participants were 279 male and female undergraduate students, aged 18 to 22 years, from 2- or 4-year community colleges, colleges, and universities. The sample was randomly split into a calibration sample and a validation sample. The hypothesized model was modified based on results with the calibration sample, and a multiple group analysis was used to test for model invariance across the two groups for the revised model. The results of this study suggest that both family of origin social status and family support influence career development outcomes. Specifically, results indicated that the influence of family status, enacted family support, and perceived family support on outcomes was primarily indirect; these variables operated through subjective status. Results also indicated a moderate, direct relationship between subjective social status and career decision-making self-efficacy. The findings suggest that prevention and intervention efforts should focus on both increasing family support and increasing access to the other types of resources implicated in shaping subjective status. Additional implications for both research and practice are discussed.