Journal of Career Assessment

Vocational Interests and ...
Journal of Career Assessment
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Hirschi                                                                                              225

1992; also see ...
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Hirschi                                                                                              227

   The Swiss ed...
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                                                                         Table 1. Correlations Among the Measu...
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Hirschi                                                                                                 231

Figure 1. ...
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Hirschi                                                                                              233

examples of dat...
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Hirschi                                                                                                    235

Barrick, ...
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Hirschi                                                                                                      237

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Journal of career assessment 2010-hirschi-223-38

  1. 1. Journal of Career Assessment Vocational Interests and Career Goals: Development and Relations to Personality in Middle Adolescence Andreas Hirschi Journal of Career Assessment 2010 18: 223 originally published online 15 April 2010 DOI: 10.1177/1069072710364789 The online version of this article can be found at: Published by: Additional services and information for Journal of Career Assessment can be found at: Email Alerts: Subscriptions: Reprints: Permissions: Citations: Downloaded from by Azwar Inra on October 8, 2010
  2. 2. Journal of Career Assessment 18(3) 223-238 ª 2010 SAGE Publications Vocational Interests and Reprints and permission: Career Goals: Development DOI: 10.1177/1069072710364789 and Relations to Personality in Middle Adolescence Andreas Hirschi1 Abstract Cross-sectional research implies a close relation of vocation interests, goals, and traits, yet little is known about their reciprocal development over time. This longitudinal study examined develop- ment of Things/People (T/P) and Data/Ideas (D/I) vocational interests and career goals in relation to Big Five personality traits among 292 Swiss adolescents with a cross-lagged panel design with two measurement points over 1 year from seventh to eighth grade. Interests and goals were significantly related within time and showed significant interactions across time. Traits related significantly and equally to interests and goals within time and predicted their development across time except for T/P goals. Goals and interests possessed incremental validity above traits in affecting each other. Implications include the need to account for dynamic processes in the development of goals and interests and their systematic relation to traits in theory and practice. Keywords vocational interests, career goals, career aspirations, personality, adolescent career development, developmental systems theory Personal interests and goals are important constructs in understanding human motivation and behavior. Within vocational psychology, the focus has traditionally been on investigating interests and goals as important parts of a person’s personality and expression of self-concept (Holland, 1997; Savickas & Spokane, 1999). Although it is acknowledged that vocational interests and goals emerge in childhood (Hartung, Porfeli, & Vondracek, 2005), adolescence seems to be a crucial period for the study of their development. Research showed that during adolescence, interests crystallize and sta- bilize, and career goals and aspirations become more realistic in terms of adaptation to personal and environmental characteristics (Low & Rounds, 2007; Walls, 2000). Within this context, the goal of the current study was to examine the development and reciprocal interaction of vocational interests 1 Leuphana University of Lueneburg, Institute for Strategic HR Management Research and Development (SMARD), Lueneburg, Germany Corresponding Author: Andreas Hirschi, Leuphana University of Lueneneburg, Institute for Strategic HR Management Research and Development (SMARD), Wilschenbrucher Weg 84, D-21335 Lueneburg, Germany. Email: 223 Downloaded from by Azwar Inra on October 8, 2010
  3. 3. 224 Journal of Career Assessment 18(3) and career goals and the relation of their development to basic personality traits in middle adolescence. In the existing theoretical and empirical literature, vocational interests and career goals/aspira- tions are frequently referred to as measured versus expressed interests (Spokane & Decker, 1999). The first refers to interests as they are assessed with standardized interest inventories repre- senting a central part of a person’s personality (Holland, 1999). The latter refers to stated vocational or educational aspirations that are considered an expression of a person’s self-concept (Super, 1990). Thus, it is important to clearly distinguish interests from aspirations and goals. As Silvia (2001) pointed out, ‘‘expressed interests’’ are in fact career intentions that refer to goals of a person, which encompass motivational and evaluative components and are conceptually different from mere interests. Similarly, from a developmental systems perspective of personality (D. H. Ford, 1987), interests represent regulatory cognitions of self-evaluation, while aspirations belong to directive cognitive processes and represent future-oriented personal goals. In the current article, the term career goals is used synonymous to career aspirations describing current career-related wishes encompassing, but not restricted to, more specific career intentions that have been prioritized and are currently directing or are ready to direct activity (M. E. Ford, 1992). Two of the most prominent theories of vocational goals and interest development are Gottfredson’s (1981, 2002) theory of circumscription and compromise and the social cognitive career theory (SCCT) by Lent, Brown, and Hackett (Lent, Brown, & Hackett, 1994, 2002). However, they propose very dif- ferent processes of interests and goal development. According to Gottfredson (1981, 2002), career aspirations/goals develop beginning in early childhood due to a process of circumscription, which refers to eliminating occupational alternatives that conflict with one’s self-concept on perceived size and power, sex roles, and social valuation or prestige of the occupations. In a final stage, approxi- mately ages 14 and older, adolescents are proposed to orient themselves to their internal, unique self and have to compromise to reach a balance between idealistic and realistic aspirations based on their own abilities and accessibility of the occupations. Empirical research on career aspiration development provided support for some propositions of this theory by showing that gender plays an important role in children’s career aspiration development and that aspirations decrease in prestige and become more realistic during adolescence (Helwig, 1998, 2001). SCCT (Lent et al., 1994, 2002) states that interests primarily develop out of self-efficacy beliefs and outcome expectations, which are shaped through specific learning experiences. Interests then lead to the development of goals that are also directly influenced by self-efficacy beliefs, outcome expectations, and contextual influences proximal to choice behavior. Several studies provided empirical support for the notion that interests in adolescence are influenced by self-efficacy beliefs (although self-efficacy beliefs are also shaped by interests, cf. Lent, Tracey, Brown, Soresi, & Nota, 2006; Tracey, 2002) and that goals are modeled by interests, self-efficacy beliefs, and outcome expectations (Fouad & Smith, 1996), where interests mostly mediated the influence of outcome expectations, self-efficacy beliefs, and environmental factors of barriers and support on goals (Lent, Brown, Nota, & Soresi, 2003; Lent, Brown, Schmidt, et al., 2003). It was also suggested that basic personality traits affect interests and goals via self-efficacy beliefs (Hartman & Betz, 2007; Nauta, 2004; Schaub & Tokar, 2005; Tokar, Thompson, Plaufcan, & Williams, 2007) and that especially emotional stability, extraversion, and conscientiousness contribute to the development of general and specific self-efficacy beliefs (Hartman & Betz, 2007; Larson & Borgen, 2006). SCCT also includes a feedback loop in which goals lead to behaviors that in turn affect self-efficacy expecta- tions, which then again reshape interests (Lent et al., 1994). However, this more circular part of the theory has not yet received much empirical or theoretical attention (but see Lent, Taveira, Sheu, & Singley, 2009). Another dynamic perception of goals and interest development is presented in the developmental systems perspective on personality and human development (D. H. Ford, 1987; D. H. Ford & Lerner, 224 Downloaded from by Azwar Inra on October 8, 2010
  4. 4. Hirschi 225 1992; also see Vondracek & Porfeli, 2008). According to this conception, goals and interests (as a specific form of evaluative thoughts) influence each other. As also proposed by the dominant current theories, goals are adapted to interests through negative feedback processes, which show a discre- pancy between goals and evaluations of self and/or environment (e.g., interests or perception of occupational gender type and prestige). However, according to developmental systems, theory goals also influence interests directly and indirectly by affecting selective perception and processing of information through feedforward processes. The notion that goals are not only adjusted to current circumstances and cognitions/emotions but also play an eminent role in active self-construction is also shared by other prominent goal theories (Lerner, Freund, De Stefanis, & Habermas, 2001). Much previous research on career goals focused on differences between career expectations and aspirations (e.g., Armstrong & Crombie, 2000; Cook et al., 1996; Creed, Conlon, & Zimmer-Gembeck, 2007; McNulty & Borgen, 1988; Patton & Creed, 2007) or analyzed career and educational goals in terms of educational level or prestige (e.g., Helwig, 2004; Meinster & Rose, 2001; Rojewski & Yang, 1997; Shapka, Domene, & Keating, 2006). In contrast to those approaches, the current study focused on the content of career goals in relation to interests and personality. Personality in Relation to Interests and Goals One construct that may be useful in understanding the relationships of interests and goals are basic personality dispositions. Personality is a theoretical concept that describes peoples’ tendencies to behave, think, and feel in certain consistent ways. According to a trait perspective of personality, largely inherited traits affect the subsequent development of interests and goals as specific adaptations to life experiences and environments (McCrae et al., 2000). Dynamic perspectives on personality development also state that behaviors and environmental demands can in turn alter personality dispo- sitions, which implies a dynamic interplay of personality, interests, and goals (e.g., Roberts, Caspi, & Moffitt, 2003). It is empirically well established that vocational interests show meaningful relations to basic traits (Barrick, Mount, & Gupta, 2003; Larson, Rottingshaus, & Borgen, 2002), although not many studies with adolescents are available (Hirschi, 2008; Larson & Borgen, 2002). The strongest and most consistent relations across studies are reported between artistic interests and openness, enter- prising interests and extraversion, social interests and extraversion, investigative interests and open- ness, and social interests and agreeableness. Realistic interests and neuroticism were generally not significantly related to any personality trait or interest type, respectively. Likewise, major life goals were shown to be related to traits in emerging adulthood (Roberts, O’Donnell, & Robins, 2004; Roberts & Robins, 2000). Cross-sectional studies with college students showed that personality traits were related to level of educational goals (Gasser, Larson, & Borgen, 2004; Rottinghaus, Lindley, Green, & Borgen, 2002) and differentiated between students with engi- neering, drug/medical, teaching, counseling and guidance, finance/investing, entrepreneurial, and accounting career goals (Larson, Wei, Wu, Borgen, & Bailey, 2007). Goals are also conceptually closely related to values (Roberts & Robins, 2000), which in turn were closely related to interests and traits (Roccas, Sagiv, Schwartz, & Knafo, 2002; Sagiv, 2002). Therefore, confirming theoretical assumptions, there seems to be a close connection and partial overlap between goals, interests, and personality traits, which could also partially explain relations among interests and career goals. How- ever, no longitudinal study to date investigated the dynamic development of career goals in relation to development of interests or the development of career goals in relation to personality traits. Current Study Addressing these limitations of the current literature, it was the first goal of the study to investigate whether career goals and vocational interests affect each other in their development in adolescence. 225 Downloaded from by Azwar Inra on October 8, 2010
  5. 5. 226 Journal of Career Assessment 18(3) It was hypothesized that interests influence the development of goals but also that already existing career goals influence the subsequent development of vocational interests (D. H. Ford, 1987; D. H. Ford & Lerner, 1992; Lent et al., 1994). The study applied Holland’s (1997) model of vocational interest fields as a measure of interests and goals content. According to Holland, six major interest areas can be distinguished: Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising, and Conventional. Based on Holland’s circular interest model, Prediger (1982; Prediger & Vansickle, 1992) proposed that vocational interests can be categorized according to the two dimensions of people versus things and data versus ideas. Those two dimensions were applied in the current study to categorize interests and goals content into a common framework. The study assessed career goals with an idiosyncratic approach that allowed participants to freely name their personal career goals. While some studies measure goals by asking to rate a number of predefined goals that were established according to an underlying theoretical model (Roberts et al., 2004; Roberts & Robins, 2000), other approaches allow participants to freely name their goals that are then rated according to certain dimensions by the participants and/or researchers (Dik, Sargent, & Steger, 2008; Emmons, 1996; Judge, Bono, Erez, & Locke, 2005; Salmela-Aro, Aunola, & Nurmi, 2007). The latter approach has the advantage of possibly greater ecological validity because participants are not forced to restrict their goals to a predefined set. Because the purpose of the cur- rent study was to investigate goal content, such an idiographic approach was selected. The second goal of the study was to assess how development of interests and goals related to basic personality dispositions. Based on the existing knowledge, it was expected that traits show a meaningful relation to the development of both vocational interests and career goals in adolescence over time and that the specific relations are consistent with the cross-sectional findings reported in the literature (e.g., openness would be positively related to development of more ideas vs. data inter- ests and more ideas vs. data career goals over time). The third goal of the study was to investigate whether the proposed reciprocal relations among interests and goals can partially or completely be explained by their common relations to personality traits. Given the meaningful partial overlap of traits, interests, and goals as suggested by previous research, it is theoretically important to investigate whether interests have an effect on goals and goals an effect on interests, which goes above and beyond their common relations to personality traits. Based on the conceptual differences between goals and interests, it was expected that the assumed reciprocal relationship could only partially but not completely be explained by their overlap with traits. Method Participants Swiss students from a German-speaking part of the country participated in the study. At the first point of measurement (T1), they were at the end of seventh grade, at the second measurement point at the end of eighth grade (T2). Of the 319 students assessed at T1, 27 (8.5%) did not participate at the second measurement due to absence from class at the time of data collection. The missing stu- dents do not differ in their gender distribution from the remaining students. They also did not differ in their career interests or goals at T1 from the other students. The 292 remaining students (51.7% girls) ranged from 13 to 16 years in age (M ¼ 14.10, SD ¼ 0.70). Representative of students in Switzerland, close to one fifth (17.1%) had an immigration background, the majority coming from South-Eastern Europe (former Yugoslavia and Turkey). Also representative for this grade level in Switzerland, about two thirds (n ¼ 184) attended school classes with advanced scholastic require- ments (more comprehensive and demanding curriculum), the other with basic requirements. Race is not commonly assessed in Switzerland as a meaningful construct and was subsequently not assessed in the current study. However, almost all students in the study region were White. 226 Downloaded from by Azwar Inra on October 8, 2010
  6. 6. Hirschi 227 The Swiss educational system places a strong emphasis on vocational education and training with about 70% of all students continuing to a vocational education and training after compulsory school. The others continue to general high school, which prepares students for later college education (Bundesamt fur Berufsbildung und Technologie, 2007). Students have to apply for an apprenticeship ¨ or decide to take exams for general high school by the end of eighth grade through the beginning of ninth grade, which makes the eighth grade a crucial time for career planning, supported by classes on career development in schools. The current study spanned the entire time when students had to actively explore their interests and formulate specific career goals, which made it especially salient for investigation of the research questions. Thus, despite the fact that the study did only encompass 1 year, significant developments in interests and goals could be expected due to an environmentally imposed, accelerated phase of career preparation. Measures Vocational interests. Interests were assessed with the Revised General Interest Structure Test (Allgemeiner Interessen Struktur Test–Revidierte Version; Bergmann & Eder, 2005), which is a well-established and the most frequently used interest inventory in German-speaking countries (Switzerland, Germany, and Austria). Students are presented with 60 items, each describing a particular activity in one of Holland’s (1997) six interest domains: Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising, and Conventional (RIASEC). Sample items include ‘‘working on a construc- tion site’’ or ‘‘learning a foreign language.’’ Each area is assessed with 10 items in alternating order where answers are provided on a 5-point Likert-type scale ranging from not at all interested to very interested and where higher points indicate more interest in this activity. The authors of the inven- tory provide evidence for the inventory’s construct validity (e.g., differences between people employed in different occupations, as well as significant relations to basic personality traits). The authors report reliability estimates (a) ranking from .82 to .87 and 1-month retest stabilities of .85 to .92. Within the current sample, the reliabilities (a) of the RIASEC scales were R: .84, I: .83; A: .85, S: .92, E: .88, and C: .87 at the first measurement point and R: .88, I: .83; A: .85, S: .93, E: .90, and C: .88 at the second measurement point. Career goals. Each student was asked to name the vocations that he or she is currently considering to pursue after ninth grade. Students could name as many occupations as they wanted in a free response format. These aspirations were then transformed into three-letter RIASEC codes according to the Dictionaries of Occupational Codes (Swiss edition) provided by Jorin, Stoll, Bergmann, and ¨ Eder (2004). A sum score of their aspirations was then calculated by assigning three points for the first letter, two for the second, one for the last letter, and zero points for all subsequent letters for each aspiration (cf., Reardon & Lenz, 1999). This sum score was then divided by the number of named aspirations to result in an average score representing each student’s endorsement of RIASEC types represented in his or her career goals. Students named between 1 and 13 (M ¼ 3.24, SD ¼ 1.6) goals at the end of seventh grade and between 1 and 12 goals at the end of eighth grade (M ¼ 2.75, SD ¼ 1.5). The vast majority of students (Time 1 83%, Time 2 88%) named four or fewer goals at both measurement points. Interests and goals dimensions. The retrieved values for Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising, and Conventional interests and goals were transformed to a Things/People (T/P) and Data/Ideas (D/I) dimension. This approach has the advantage of taking the relation of the RIASEC dimensions into account and transferring the ordinal measure of career goals into a continuous scale that can be directly compared to the measure of vocational interests. The formula provided by Tracey, Robbins, and Hofsess (2005) was applied where the T/P dimension was calculated as 227 Downloaded from by Azwar Inra on October 8, 2010
  7. 7. 228 Journal of Career Assessment 18(3) (2R þ I þ C À 2S À E À A) and the D/I dimension was calculated as (1.73E þ 1.73C À 1.73I À 1.73A) using the raw scores of the interest inventory profile and the RIASEC scores of the goals measure. High values in the T/P dimension thus indicate stronger interests/goals on things over peo- ple and negative scores indicate more interests/goals on people over things. High scores on the D/I dimension are indicative of more interests/goals on data while negative scores represent more inter- ests/goals on ideas. Personality traits. Traits were assessed with the NEO-FFI (Borkenau & Ostendorf, 1993), which is the official German language adaptation of the original scale developed by Costa and McCrae (1992). The scale consists of 60 statements (e.g., ‘‘I am not easily worried’’) that tap the Big Five personality traits neuroticism, extraversion, openness, agreeableness, and conscientiousness. Based on the recommendations of scale evaluation studies (Ludtke, Trautwein, Nagy, & Koller, 2004; ¨ ¨ Rost, Carstensen, & von Davier, 1999), a 4-point Likert-type scale was applied, ranging from strongly disagree to strongly agree. Higher points of the five scales indicate a higher value in the assessed construct. The authors of the scale (Borkenau and Ostendorf) provide support for its factor structure, reliability and construct validity, for example, correlations to other established personality inventories. Cronbach’s as for the scales in the current sample were .77 for neuroticism, .72 for extraversion, .60 for openness, .69 for agreeableness, and .78 for conscientiousness. Procedure Students indicated their current career goals and completed the interest inventory in their classrooms during an ordinary school session under the supervision of their teachers shortly before the end of seventh grade (T1). Approximately 1 year later, they again completed the interest inventory by indi- cating their career goals and completing the personality questionnaire in the same setting (T2). Par- ticipation was voluntary at both measurement points but all students present in the class at the time of data collection participated in the study. Results Preliminary Analyses Correlations. An analysis of the correlations among the assessed variables can provide information regarding the extent to which traits, vocational interests, and career goals were related within time among the study participants. Table 1 shows that interests and goals showed significant and consid- erable interindividual stability over time as indicated by the significant relations of T/P and D/I inter- ests and goals at T1 and the same measures at T2, 1 year later (ranging from r ¼ .83 (T/P interests) to .44 (D/I goals, M ¼ .67, SD ¼ .18). The results also showed that interests and goals were signifi- cantly related at both measurement points, although the relations of T/P interests and goals (M ¼ .75, SD ¼ .03) was larger than the relation among D/I interests and goals (M ¼ .38, SD ¼ .01). Sup- porting the hypothesis, the results further showed that traits were equivocally related to goals and interests. That is, if a certain trait significantly related to an interest dimension, it also significantly correlated to the same goals dimension (e.g., agreeableness related negatively to T/P interests and goals). The exceptions were that extraversion related positively to D/I interests but was unrelated to D/I goals at the first measurement point and openness related only to D/I interests but not D/I goals at both points. Generally, the results showed that neuroticism related negatively to T/P inter- ests and goals, extraversion correlated negatively to T/P but positively to D/I interests and goals, openness related negatively to D/I interests, agreeableness correlated negatively to T/P interests and goals, and conscientiousness was unrelated to goals and interests. 228 Downloaded from by Azwar Inra on October 8, 2010
  8. 8. Hirschi Table 1. Correlations Among the Measures (N ¼ 292) T1 T2 Interests Goals Interests Goals Traits T/P D/I T/P D/I T/P D/I T/P D/I N E O A C T1 Interests T/P – D/I À.082 – Goals T/P .771*** À.052 – D/I À.239** .384*** À.316*** – T2 Interests T/P .827*** À.060 .701*** À.207** – D/I À.069 .689*** À.066 .399*** À.146* – Goals T/P .731*** À.108 .796*** À.265*** .734*** À.119* – D/I À.176* .281*** À.197** .448*** À.185* .368*** À.341*** – Traits N À.124* .033 À.127* .026 À.091 À.077 À.066 À.012 – E À.233*** .165** À.152** .083 À.293*** .222*** À.212*** .182* À.449*** – O À.027 À.227*** À.012 À.056 À.093 À.223*** À.076 À.122 .005 .060 – Downloaded from by Azwar Inra on October 8, 2010 A À.219*** À.055 À.184** .020 À.202** À.059 À.191** .031 À.365*** .422*** À.006 – C À.011 .024 À.081 À.013 À.040 .140 À.088 À.027 À.267*** .208*** .141* .305*** – Note: A ¼ agreeableness; C ¼ conscientiousness; D/I ¼ data versus ideas; E ¼ extraversion; N ¼ neuroticism; O ¼ openness; T/P ¼ things versus people. * p < .05, ** p < .01, *** p < .001. 229 229
  9. 9. 230 Journal of Career Assessment 18(3) Reciprocal Influence of Interests and Goals To test the hypothesis that interests and goals would affect each other in their development, a crossed-lagged panel analysis with structural equation modeling was applied. Data were analyzed with AMOS 17 and the maximum likelihood method. The calculated T/P and D/I dimensions for interests and goals were included in the model as observed variables. First, a model that only included the autoregressive paths was estimated, meaning that no relations of interests on goals or vice versa over time were proposed. The same dimensions of interests and goals (e.g., T/P) were allowed to covary at each measurement point to account for the relation of goals and interests within time. The results showed that all autoregressive paths were significant, indicating the interindividual stability of the measures over time. However, the model showed a relatively poor fit to the data, w2(20, N ¼ 292) ¼ 94.2, p < .001; normed fit index (NFI) ¼ .93, comparative fit index (CI) ¼ .95, standardized root mean square residual (SRMR) ¼ .070, root mean square error of approxima- tion (RMSEA) ¼ .11 (95% CI: .09–.14). Next, a model that included the crossed-lagged effects of T/P and D/I interests at T1 on the cor- responding goals at T2 was assessed. The two paths from interests at T1 to goals at T2 were signif- icant (T/P b ¼ .328, p < .001; D/I b ¼ .121, p ¼ .020), indicating a significant effect of interest on goals development over time. A chi-square difference test showed that the model fit, w2(18, N ¼ 292) ¼ 52.0, p < .001; goodness-of-fit index (GFI) ¼ .96, NFI ¼ .96, CI ¼ .98, SRMR ¼ .06, RMSEA ¼ .08 (95% CI: .06–.11), was significantly better than when only the autoregressive paths were included. Third, a model that included the crossed-lagged effects of T/P and D/I goals on the corresponding interests was assessed. The two paths from goals at T1 to interests at T2 were significant (T/P b ¼ .222, p < .001; D/I b ¼ .150, p ¼ .001), indicating a significant effect of goals on interest develop- ment over time. A chi-square difference test showed that the model fit, w2(18, N ¼ 292) ¼ 66.5 p < .001; GFI ¼ .95, NFI ¼ .95, CI ¼ .97, SRMR ¼ .06, RMSEA ¼ .10 (95% CI: .07–.12), was signif- icantly better than when just the autoregressive paths were included. Finally, a model with full crossed-lagged effects was assessed proposing effects of interests on goals and of goals on interests over time. Figure 1 shows that T/P goals had a significant effect on interest development and vice versa. D/I goals also had a significant effect on D/I interest devel- opment. However, D/I interests missed the significance level for this sample size (p ¼ .052) for their effect on D/I goals development indicating only a modest effect. Overall, the model showed a good fit to the data, w2(16, N ¼ 292) ¼ 34.6, p ¼ .005; GFI ¼ .97, NFI ¼ .98, CI ¼ .99, SRMR ¼ .05, RMSEA ¼ .06 (95% CI: .03–.09). Chi-square difference tests indicated a significantly better fit than any of the previous models, supporting the hypothesis that goals and interests showed a pattern of reciprocal influence on each other over time. Personality and Development of Goals and Interests The next set of analyses were conducted to test the hypothesis that the development of interests and goals are meaningfully related to basic personality traits and that they effect each other beyond and above their relation to traits. Due to the available sample size, multiple hierarchical regression anal- yses instead of structural equation modeling were applied for this analysis. A model that accounts for the interrelatedness of the personality traits and their relations to the measure at T1 while investigat- ing their effects on the measure at T2 would need 75 parameters to be estimated—even when using the observed values instead of latent variables. This would mean a disproportionally large number of parameters compared to sample size, which could negatively affect the stability of the results. For the multiple hierarchical regression analyses, the measures at T2 were taken as the dependent variables and the measures at T1 were entered first in the model to account for the autoregressive 230 Downloaded from by Azwar Inra on October 8, 2010
  10. 10. Hirschi 231 Figure 1. Results of the structural equation modeling for the full cross-lagged design (N ¼ 292). *p < .05, **p < .01, ***p < .001. effect. Next, the five traits were included to assess their effect on the residualized gains or interin- dividual change of the variable over time. In a final step, the respective goals or interest measure, respectively, was included to establish its effect above and beyond the personality measures. The results in Table 2 show that traits had a significant effect on the development of T/P interests over time, DR2 ¼ .017, DF(5, 285) ¼ 3.22, p ¼ .008. Students with higher extraversion showed stronger increase in interests on People and a weaker increase in interests on Things. T/P goals explained a significant amount of variance above and beyond traits, DR2 ¼ .011, DF(1, 284) ¼ 10.4, p ¼ .001. The development of T/P goals was not significantly related to traits, DR2 ¼ .012, DF(5, 285) ¼ 2.00, p ¼ .078. However, more extraversion related negatively to development of goals on things and positively to the development of goals on People. T/P interests had a significant effect on the development of goals beyond and above traits, DR2 ¼ .029, DF(1, 284) ¼ 25.16, p < .001. Traits also explained significant variance in the development of D/I interests over time, DR2 ¼ .039, DF(5, 285) ¼ 4.51, p ¼ .001. More extraversion, less openness, less agreeableness, and more conscientiousness predicted more interest development on Data and less development of interests on Ideas. Goals explained significant variance interest development above and beyond traits, DR2 ¼ .015, DF(1, 284) ¼ 8.88, p ¼ .003. Traits also explained significant variance in D/I goals develop- ment, DR2 ¼ .029, DF(5, 285) ¼ 2.69, p ¼ .021. Openness related negatively to development of interests on Data and positively to interests on Ideas. However, interests did not explain significant additional variance, DR2 ¼ .003, DF(1, 284) ¼ 1.57, p ¼ .211. Discussion The goals of the current study were to investigate whether vocational interests and career goals affect each other in their development during adolescence and to explore how their development 231 Downloaded from by Azwar Inra on October 8, 2010
  11. 11. 232 Journal of Career Assessment 18(3) Table 2. Predictors of Interests and Goals Development (N ¼ 292) Things/People Data/Ideas Dependent Variable T2 Interests Goals Interests Goals Step 1 R2 ¼ .684*** R2 ¼ .634*** R2 ¼ .474*** R2 ¼ .363*** Measure T1 .827*** .796*** .689*** .603*** Step 2 R2 ¼ .701*** R2 ¼ .646*** R2 ¼ .513*** R2 ¼ .392*** Neuroticism À.049 À.012 À.061* .047 Extraversion À.130** À.089* .131* .105 Openness À.062 À.062 À.101* À.152** Agreeableness .012 À.017 À.133** .004 Conscientiousness À.012 .004 .100* .013 Step 4 R2 ¼ .712*** R2 ¼ .675*** R2 ¼ .528*** R2 ¼ .396*** Goals/interests T1 .163** .278*** .140** .067 Note: b weights are reported for when variable first entered into the regression. * p < .05, ** p < .01, *** p < .001. is related to basic personality traits. Based on a living systems approach to human development and personality (D. H. Ford, 1987) and the circular component of SCCT (Lent et al., 1994), bidirectional influences of goals and interests over time were expected. The cross-sectional results showed that interests and goals according to the dimensions T/P and D/I are strongly related. This implies that adolescents strongly orient their current career goals to their current vocational interests. However, the longitudinal crossed-lagged panel study results confirmed that not only do interests predict development of goals as suggested by the social-cognitive career theory (Lent et al., 1994) and shown by other studies (e.g., Fouad & Smith, 1996) but also that goals had an equally strong effect on development of interests over time. The results partially support Gottfredson’s (1981, 2002) the- ory and the social-cognitive model that goals become adjusted to internal self in terms of personal interests during middle adolescence. However, the results suggest a more dynamic picture where existing interests are also subsequently adjusted to goals. This supports living systems theory that states that existing goals shape self-evaluations through feedforward processes and by means of selective information processing and attention (D. H. Ford, 1987). The finding that interests and goals reinforce each other in their development is also consistent with a sociogenic view of person- ality development that states that people select environments partially based on personal dispositions and that those environments in turn reinforce those same traits (Roberts et al., 2003). The results also stress the importance of the often neglected reciprocal component of the SCCT, which implies that goals lead to behaviors that in turn affect self-efficacy expectations, which then again reshape inter- ests (Lent et al., 1994). However, the current results suggest that direct experiences might not even be necessary for changes in interests to occur (see Roberts et al., 2004, for a similar result regarding the goals–trait relation). In summary, the current results align with other research indicating a more dynamic development of career-related variables in adolescence than is implied by dominant linear models (cf., Lent et al., 2006; Tracey, 2002). One exception to the reciprocal influence was that D/I interests did only modestly affect subse- quent development of respective goals. D/I goals were also less stable in terms of interindividual stability within the current sample compared to T/P goals. One possible reason for this finding is that goals in enterprising and conventional fields (which anchor the Data pole of the D/I orientation) are less affected by personal interests but more by environmental opportunities or societal (e.g., par- ental) influence. Specifically, within Switzerland, office clerk and retail salesman/saleswoman (both 232 Downloaded from by Azwar Inra on October 8, 2010
  12. 12. Hirschi 233 examples of data-oriented vocations) are by far the two most frequent vocational educations for adolescents. This could mean that many students develop such goals more out of opportunity than personal interests. This reasoning is further supported by the finding that D/I goals (but not interests) were generally not strongly related to personality traits. The results stress the importance of research investigating under which circumstances adolescents are more or less likely to develop goals according to internal versus external influences. The second hypothesis was that the development of interests and career goals would show meaningful and similar relations to basic personality traits. The cross-sectional results confirmed the assumption that goals and interests generally related to traits in the same way, suggesting a mean- ingful overlap between traits, interests, and career goals in middle adolescence. The participants were chronologically at the beginning of the last stage of Gottfredson’s (1981) model of aspiration development, where adaptation of aspirations to personal self is expected. However, the fact that goals were already clearly related to traits and interests as early as seventh grade implies that career goals become an expression of aspects of personal self earlier than Gottfredson’s theory would suggest. Traits also significantly related to the development of interests and goals over time, although not necessarily in the same way. One consistent relation of traits to the development of both goals and interests was found for the development of D/I interests and goals with openness. The relation of artistic and investigative interests (both defining the Ideas dimension) and openness is well estab- lished in cross-sectional findings among adults (Barrick et al., 2003; Larson et al., 2002). The results provide first longitudinal evidence that openness also plays a crucial role in the development of Ideas-oriented interests and goals in adolescence. Contrary to the expectation, traits did not explain significant variance in the development of T/P goals. One possible explanation for this finding is that the T/P dimension is especially affected by gender socialization with boys on average showing a stronger tendency toward Things and girls on average a stronger tendency toward People (Lippa, 1998). A post hoc analysis confirmed large gender differences in the T/P (Mean d ¼ 1.84) but not the D/I (Mean d ¼ 0.17) dimension of career goals for this sample. Another post hoc regression anal- ysis separated by gender confirmed that personality traits did not explain development of T/P goals among either boys or girls. This could imply that career goals in this area are more affected by gen- der socialization than by traits. The final hypothesis expected that goals would predict change in interests and interests would predict change in goals beyond and above their common relation to personality traits. For both T/P and D/I dimensions, goals explained significant variance in the development of respective interests beyond and above the effect of traits. T/P interests also explained significant variance in development of respective goals beyond and above traits. However, due to the generally modest effect of D/I interests on D/I goals development, D/I interests could not explain additional variance in the respective goals development above and beyond traits. Overall, the results imply that the relation of interests and career goals cannot just be explained by their common relation to more basic traits but that they possess a unique component that explains their reciprocal influence. Limitations and Conclusions for Theory and Practice One limitation of this study is that traits were only assessed at the second measurement point, which limits the possibility to make causal inferences about their influence on the development of goals and interests. According to some personality theorists, traits are largely genetically determinated and are not affected by subsequent individual life experiences (McCrae et al., 2000), which would imply that traits did predict change in interests and goals. However, others suggest that traits do change over time and are affected by the interaction of person and environmental demands (Roberts, Walton, & Viechtbauer, 2006). Research on traits and interests stability showed greater 233 Downloaded from by Azwar Inra on October 8, 2010
  13. 13. 234 Journal of Career Assessment 18(3) interindividual change in adolescence compared to later periods in life, indicating that those constructs are more in flux during this developmental period (Low & Rounds, 2007; Roberts & DelVecchio, 2000). This implies that traits also might have been influenced by interests and goals. Future studies could tap into this dynamic view and also assess development of traits over time and how they are related to changes in interests and goals. Another limitation was that the openness dimension showed low reliability among the study participants. However, the meaningful, significant, and consistent results regarding the relation of openness to interests and goals support the measure’s validity within this sample. The study also did not explicitly differentiate between career expectations and aspirations. The instructions and purpose in assessing career goals was to have students name their actual intentions when leaving school. However, some students might have named more ideal aspirations while others might have named more restricted expectations. As such, the study could not tap into possibly important differences and different developments of these two kinds of career goals. One strength of the study was that interests and goals were assessed in different ways (i.e., inven- tory vs. open response format) that reduces the shared method variance and likelihood of artificial relations among the two measures due to the same method of measurement. However, it also implies that part of the overlap of interests and traits might not only be conceptual but also methodological due to identical means of measurement with standardized Likert-response format questionnaires. A final limitation is the use of a convenience sample, which implies restrictions to generalizability and external validity. Despite those limitations, the study has several conclusions that could inform future theory and research: (a) goals and interests show a dynamic interaction in their development in middle adoles- cence; (b) goals and interests are meaningfully related to basic personality traits as early as seventh grade; and (c) their common relation to traits can partially, yet not completely, explain their effect on each other. These results call for more attention to dynamic models of career development, which investigate reciprocal effects of variables over time and not just linear effects. For career assessment practice, the results imply that counselors should take early career goals seriously and not just regard them as relatively unreflected expressions of social and environmental influences. On one hand, career goals are meaningfully related to personal interests and traits even in earlier adolescence. On the other hand, early career goals will possibly affect the subsequent development of vocational interests, which in turn would affect career choices. As such, early career goals can be expected to possess real predictive utility for future career development among adolescents. Acknowledgment I would like to thank Fred. W. Vondracek for his comments on a previous version of this manuscript. Declaration of Conflicting Interests The author(s) declared no conflicts of interest with respect to the authorship and/or publication of this article. Funding Work for this study was funded as part of a fellowship for prospective researchers granted to the author by the Swiss National Science Foundation References Armstrong, P. I., & Crombie, G. (2000). Compromise in adolescents’ occupational aspirations and expectations from grades 8 to 10. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 56, 82-98. 234 Downloaded from by Azwar Inra on October 8, 2010
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