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An Investigation of Big Five Personality Traits and Career Decidedness Among Early and Middle Adolescents

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Abstract

Big Five personality traits were analyzed in relation to career decidedness among adolescents in middle and high school. Participants were 248 seventh-grade, 321 tenth-grade, and 282 twelfth-grade students. As hypothesized, Conscientiousness was positively and significantly correlated with career decidedness in all three grades. Openness and Agreeableness were found to be positively related to career decidedness for these middle and high school students. Emotional Stability was positively, significantly related to career decidedness for the twelfth-grade sample. There were no significant differences in correlational results for males versus females. No significant mean differences in career decidedness were observed between the three grades. Results are discussed in terms of implications for future research and career development efforts. The purpose of this article is to examine the Big Five personality traits in rela-tion to career decidedness among adolescents in middle and high school. Deciding on a career is a key developmental task in late adolescence and early adulthood (Super, 1990). As noted by Arnold (1989), career decidedness serves several positive functions for the individual, including contributing to identity and psychosocial competence, providing "a filter through which sometimes sur-prising events in an unfamiliar environment with novel role requirements are interpreted" (p. 165), and providing long-term goals. As might be expected, there is a rich and diverse literature on career decidedness and on the related topic of career indecision 1 (Gordon, 1998; Osipow, 1999; Spokane & Jacob, 1996). Within that literature base, there has been fairly extensive investigation of the relationship between personality traits and career decidedness. It is important to study career decidedness from the perspective of personality for several reasons.
An Investigation of Big Five Personality
Traits and Career Decidedness Among
Early and Middle Adolescents
John W. Lounsbury, Teresa Hutchens, and James M. Loveland
University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Big Five personality traits were analyzed in relation to career decidedness among
adolescents in middle and high school. Participants were 248 seventh-grade, 321
tenth-grade, and 282 twelfth-grade students. As hypothesized, Conscientiousness
was positively and significantly correlated with career decidedness in all three
grades. Openness and Agreeableness were found to be positively related to career
decidedness for these middle and high school students. Emotional Stability was
positively, significantly related to career decidedness for the twelfth-grade sample.
There were no significant differences in correlational results for males versus
females. No significant mean differences in career decidedness were observed
between the three grades. Results are discussed in terms of implications for future
research and career development efforts.
Keywords: Big Five, career decidedness, adolescent personality, per-
sonality traits
The purpose of this article is to examine the Big Five personality traits in rela-
tion to career decidedness among adolescents in middle and high school.
Deciding on a career is a key developmental task in late adolescence and early
adulthood (Super, 1990). As noted by Arnold (1989), career decidedness serves
several positive functions for the individual, including contributing to identity
and psychosocial competence, providing “a filter through which sometimes sur-
prising events in an unfamiliar environment with novel role requirements are
interpreted” (p. 165), and providing long-term goals. As might be expected, there
is a rich and diverse literature on career decidedness and on the related topic of
career indecision1(Gordon, 1998; Osipow, 1999; Spokane & Jacob, 1996).
Within that literature base, there has been fairly extensive investigation of the
relationship between personality traits and career decidedness. It is important to
study career decidedness from the perspective of personality for several reasons.
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to John W. Lounsbury, Department of Psychology,
University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37996-0900; e-mail: jlounsbury@aol.com.
JOURNAL OF CAREER ASSESSMENT, Vol. XX No. X, Month 2005
1
–17
DOI = 10.1177/1069072704270272
© 2005 Sage Publications
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2 JOURNAL OF CAREER ASSESSMENT / February 2005
First, such knowledge helps us understand the construct validity of career decid-
edness and to elaborate theoretical explanations of career decision processes.
Second, knowledge of linkages between personality and career decidedness can
help practitioners design and evaluate programs and interventions. Third,
because from a developmental perspective, personality precedes most vocational
and career-related variables, it is important to know how much of the variation in
career decidedness can be explained by personality so that we can examine the
incremental variance contributed by interventions, treatments, and other career-
related variables.
To date, most of the research on the relationship between personality and
career decidedness has focused on correlates of personality traits among college
students. For example, Lounsbury, Tatum, Chambers, Owen, and Gibson (1999)
found that career decidedness was positively related to conscientiousness and that
agreeableness and negatively related to neuroticism. Arnold (1989) observed that
career decidedness was related to adjustment and self-assurance. Shafer (2000)
reported that college students who had made a definite career choice were more
conscientious than students who had not decided on a career. In one of the few
studies in this area using a comprehensive measure of personality, Newman,
Gray, and Fuqua (1999) found that low career indecision students had higher
mean scores on the California Psychological Inventory scales of dominance,
capacity for status, sociability, empathy, responsibility, socialization, self-control,
tolerance, achievement via conformance, and psychological-mindedness. Also,
career indecision has been found to be positively related to anxiety and neuroti-
cism (Meyer & Winer, 1993) and self-consciousness and perfectionism (Leong &
Chervinko, 1996) and negatively related to self-efficacy (Larson, Heppner, Ham,
& Dugan, 1988) and self-esteem (Chartrand, Martin, Robbins, & McAuliffe,
1994).
On the other hand, even though a variety of studies have linked personality
traits to career choice and interests among adolescents (e.g., Feather & Said,
1983; Hartman, Fuqua, & Blum, 1985; Hartman, Fuqua, & Hartman, 1988;
Lokan & Biggs, 1982; Medina & Drummond, 1993), there has been very little
research on career decidedness and personality traits among “middle” adoles-
cents (i.e., about 14-17 years old or high school age using Jaffe’s 1998 taxonomy
for adolescents) and no research we could identify for “early” adolescents (i.e.,
about 11-13 years old or middle school age). Even though adolescence is char-
acterized by marked personality change and development (Piaget, 1952), it is
also a time when relatively stable personality traits emerge (McCrae et al., 2002).
Whereas McCrae et al. (2002) reported Big Five 4-year stability coefficients from
age 12 to age 16 for adolescent boys and girls ranging from .30 to .60, these
authors also reported 2-week stability coefficients in the .86 to .90 range.
Additionally, we have observed a median value of .55 for 1-year stability coeffi-
1Following the conceptualizations and empirical findings of other researchers such as Leong and Chervinko
(1996), we view career decidedness as being inversely related to career indecision.
Lounsbury et al. / CAREER DECIDEDNESS AND BIG FIVE 3
cients for Big Five traits in middle and high school students (Lounsbury &
Gibson, 2002). One way to interpret these reliabilities is that, from the standpoint
of practitioners, there is ample opportunity for personality change as a result of,
say, education, counseling, and systematic interventions, many of which will
occur in a time frame shorter than 4 years or even 1 year. On the other hand, the
level of observed reliabilities for adolescent personality traits is sufficient for
detecting validity relationships among personality variables. For example, Fuqua,
Newman, and Seaworth (1988) found that clusters of career indecision could be
differentiated by state-trait anxiety and locus of control among high school stu-
dents. Also, Wulff and Steitz (1999) found that self-efficacy was negatively relat-
ed to career indecision among high school females.
The present study examined career decidedness in relation to personality as
represented by the Big Five model (Goldberg, 1990; John, 1990). The Big Five
model has emerged as the most widely accepted and extensively researched
framework for normal personality available today. There is a great deal of support
for the Big Five model as a unified framework for personality (De Raad, 2000;
Digman, 1990, 1997; Wiggins & Trapnell, 1997). Many different studies have
verified the factor structure and validity of the Big Five constructs of Openness,
Conscientiousness, Extroversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism in a wide
range of cultures, ethnic and demographic groups, and research settings (Costa
& McCrae, 1994; De Raad, 2000; Ten Berge & De Raad, 1999; Tokar, Vaux, &
Swanson, 1995). In the career domain, the Big Five traits have been found to be
related to a variety of important constructs and outcomes, including vocational
identity (Holland & Gottfredson, 1994; Holland, Gottfredson, & Baker, 1990),
Holland’s RIASEC types (Arbona, 2000), employment status (De Fruyt &
Mervielde (1999), job satisfaction (Furnham, Petrides, Jackson, & Cotter, 2002;
Holland & Gottfredson, 1994; Judge, Heller, & Mount, 2002), job performance
(Barrick & Mount, 1991; Hogan, 1996; Judge, Higgins, Thoresen, & Barrick,
1999; Tett, Jackson, & Rothstein, 1991), job turnover (Salgado, 2002), income
and career success (Judge et al., 1999), and career satisfaction (Lounsbury et al.,
2003). Given that the Big Five represents a widely accepted basic structure of
normal personality, it is important from the standpoint of theory development to
assess the nomothetic span (Messick, 1989) of career decidedness across the Big
Five personality traits. Moreover, it is becoming increasingly common to use the
Big Five as a benchmark against which other constructs must be assessed to
determine their unique or incremental validity (e.g., Lounsbury, Loveland, &
Gibson, 2003; Lounsbury, Sundstrom, Gibson, & Loveland, 2003). Identifying
relationships between career decidedness and the Big Five traits could be useful
in a variety of ways to practitioners. By way of illustration, as noted by Braden
(1995), knowledge of a student’s personality can help counselors and teachers
accommodate personality differences in three areas: designing and administering
interventions, altering curricula, and remedying individual student deficiencies.
As one specific example, group discussions of career topics might be more useful
4 JOURNAL OF CAREER ASSESSMENT / February 2005
for more extroverted students, whereas reading and writing assignments on career
topics might be more appropriate for more introverted students.
Research Questions
We examined the relationship between the Big Five traits of Agreeableness,
Conscientiousness, Emotional Stability, Extroversion, and Openness. Drawing
mainly on the research literature for college students reviewed above, we gener-
ated two directional hypotheses:
First, emotional stability will be positively related to career decidedness. This
hypothesis is based on Meyer and Winer’s (1993) finding of a positive relation-
ship between career indecision and anxiety as well as neuroticism and on the
finding of Newman et al. (1999) of higher scores on self-control for college stu-
dents who were lower on career indecision. It is also based on the finding of
Fuqua et al. (1988) that career indecision was related to trait anxiety and on
Gordon’s (1998) finding that students who are very career decided are generally
higher on self-assurance.
Second, conscientiousness will be positively related to career decidedness.
This hypothesis is based directly on Shafer’s (2000) finding of higher scores on
conscientiousness for students who had made a definite career choice and on the
finding by Newman et al. (1999) of higher scores on responsibility, socialization,
and achievement via conformance for students low on career indecision.
Following a validation strategy of clarifying the boundaries of validity relation-
ships as a function of individual difference and group variables (Cronbach, 1988;
Jenkins & Lykken, 1957; Messick, 1989), we also examined the relationship
between the Big Five and career decidedness separately for males and females as
well as by grade level. The choice of sex as a blocking variable was motivated by
the extensive literature showing differences between male and female adoles-
cents in career-related constructs (e.g., Betz & Fitzgerald, 1987; Farmer &
Chung, 1995; Fouad & Spreda, 1995; Galotti, Kozberg, & Appleman, 1990;
Kelly, 1993; Luzzo, 1995; Melamed, 1995; Patton & Creed, 2002; Tuck, Rolfe,
& Adair, 1994). The rationale for examining validities by grade level is based on
many studies showing differences in career variables and construct relations
between different grade levels (e.g., Busacca & Taber, 2002; Gassin, Kelly, &
Feldhusen, 1993; Hall, Kelly, & Van Buren, 1995; Helwig, 2002; Wallace-
Broscious, Serafica, & Osipow, 1994). Accordingly, the following two research
questions were also investigated in the present study.
We examined the relationship between each of the Big Five traits for different
grade levels—in this case, 7th, 10th, and 12th grades—to determine whether
there were differences in common correlations by grade level. No directional
hypotheses were advanced here. We also examined the relationship between
each of the Big Five traits and career decidedness separately for males and
females by grade level. No directional hypotheses were advanced.
Lounsbury et al. / CAREER DECIDEDNESS AND BIG FIVE 5
METHOD
Data for this study came from archives developed as part of an investigation of
middle school and high school students conducted within a county school sys-
tem and used here with the permission of the superintendent’s office. The school
system, located in the southeastern United States, has 98% Caucasian students
and 2% African American students. Data were collected as part of a longitudinal
study of employability of students by the school system.
Participants
Data were collected on 248 students in the 7th grade (middle school), 321 stu-
dents in the 10th grade, and 282 students in the 12th grade (high school). In the
7th-grade sample, 53% were male and 47% female. The average age was 12.6
years. In the 10th-grade sample, 46% were male and 54% female; the average age
was 15.44. In the 12th-grade sample, 48% were male and 52% female; the aver-
age age was 17.80. Individual race and ethnic status data were not available.
MEASURES
Big Five Personality. The measure of personality, the Adolescent Personal Style
Inventory (APSI) (Lounsbury, Gibson, Sundstrom, Wilburn, & Loveland, 2003;
Lounsbury, Sundstrom, et al., 2003; Lounsbury, Tatum, et al., 2003), measures
the Big Five traits of Openness, Conscientiousness, Extroversion, Agreeableness,
and Emotional Stability, which have been shown to be highly related to other
Big Five personality measures (Lounsbury, Gibson, et al., 2003; Lounsbury,
Tatum, et al., 2003) and to be related to academic performance, absences, and
behavior problems (Lounsbury, Steel, Loveland, & Gibson, 2004; Lounsbury,
Sundstrom, et al., 2003; Lounsbury, Tatum, et al., 2003). Each APSI scale con-
sists of scales with 10 to 12 items consisting of statements with which respondents
are asked to express agreement or disagreement by selecting one of five labeled
choices (strongly disagree, disagree, neutral/undecided, agree, strongly agree).
Career Decidedness. The Career Decidedness scale developed and validated
by Lounsbury et al. (1999) with additional construct validation provided
Lounsbury and Gibson (2002) was used for this study and was included on the
same inventory as the APSI Big Five traits. In pilot work on this instrument based
on college students, we found that the Career Decidedness measure correlates
negatively and substantially (r= –.78, p< .01) with Osipow, Carney, and Barak’s
(1976) Career Indecision measure. Our Career Decidedness scale has six items
with responses made on a 5-point Likert scale ranging from strongly disagree to
strongly agree. The Career Decidedness items are as follows:
6 JOURNAL OF CAREER ASSESSMENT / February 2005
I have made a definite decision about a career for myself.
I am having a difficult time choosing among different careers. (Reverse
coded)
I am sure about what I eventually want to do for a living.
I know what kind of job I would like to have someday.
I am not sure what type of work I want to do when I get out of school.
(Reverse coded)
I go back and forth on what career to go into. (Reverse coded)
RESULTS
Tables 1-3 display means, standard deviations, and coefficient alphas for the nine
personality variables, along with their intercorrelations, for the 7th-, 10th-, and
12th-grade samples in the study. Before turning to the correlational results, we
focus on the career decidedness mean scores by grade. Based on research show-
ing higher levels of career decision for higher grades (Busacca & Taber, 2002;
Fouad, 1988; Wallace-Broscious, Serifca, & Osipow, 1994), one might have
expected to see an increase in career decidedness from 6th to 12th grades; how-
ever, the mean levels of career decidedness varied little by grade, with the
grade 7 mean = 3.39, the grade 10 mean = 3.34, and the mean career decided-
ness for grade 12 = 3.47. A one-way analysis of variance revealed no significant
difference in average career decidedness between the three grades, F(2, 856) =
1.46, p= .23.
In the 7th-grade sample, career decidedness was significantly positively relat-
ed to agreeableness (r= .17, p< .05), conscientiousness (r= .31, p< .01), and
openness (r= .17, p< .05). In the 10th-grade sample, career decidedness was sig-
nificantly related only to conscientiousness (r= .20, p< .01). In the 12th-grade
sample, career decidedness was positively related to agreeableness (r= .13, p<
.05), conscientiousness (r= .22, p< .01), emotional stability (r= .17, p< .01),
and openness (r= .16, p< .05). When common correlations were compared
across grade levels using a ztest for the difference of independent correlation
coefficients (Guilford & Fruchter, 1979), no significant differences were
observed.
Table 4 presents the correlations between career decidedness and each of the
Big Five traits for males and females by grade level. Out of 15 correlations, there
were differences in the attainment of significance in only four cases: For 7th-
grade males, agreeableness was positively and significantly related to career
decidedness (r= .20, p< .05) but nonsignificantly related for females (r= .17, not
significant). For 7th-grade females, openness was positively and significantly
related to career decidedness (r= .21, p< .05) but nonsignificantly related for
males (r= .15, not significant). For 10th-grade females, conscientiousness was
positively and significantly related to career decidedness (r= .33, p< .01) but
nonsignificantly related for males (r= .11, not significant). Also, for 12th-grade
Lounsbury et al. / CAREER DECIDEDNESS AND BIG FIVE 7
females, emotional stability was positively and significantly related to career
decidedness (r= .23, p< .01) but nonsignificantly related for males (r= .12, not
significant). However, when male/female correlations were compared in each
case using a ztest for the difference of independent correlation coefficients
(Guilford & Fruchter, 1979), no significant differences were observed.
Table 1
Means, Standard Deviations, Coefficient Alphas, and
Intercorrelations of Study Variables for 7th Graders (n= 248)
(1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6)
Agreeableness (1) (.84) .33** .26** .13* .28** .17**
Conscientiousness (2) (.80) .26** .27** .39** .31**
Emotional Stability (3) (.82) .13* .15* .05
Extraversion (4) (.82) .35** .08
Openness (5) (.84) .17**
Career Decidedness (6) (.90)
Mean 3.37 3.35 3.08 3.89 3.57 3.39
Standard deviation .65 .67 .76 .61 .63 1.01
Note: Values in the diagonal represent Cronbach’s coefficient alpha reliability coefficient.
*p< .05. **p< .01.
Table 2
Means, Standard Deviations, Coefficient Alphas, and
Intercorrelations of Study Variables for 10th Graders (n= 321)
(1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6)
Agreeableness (1) (.81) .30** .38** .28** .26** .02
Conscientiousness (2) (.83) .06 .35** .34** .20**
Emotional Stability (3) (.80) .12* .19** .05
Extraversion (4) (.84) .37** .01
Openness (5) (.84) .02
Career Decidedness (6) (.90)
Mean 3.43 3.43 3.12 3.99 3.26 3.34
Standard deviation .63 .67 .71 .61 .65 .97
Note: Values in the diagonal represent Cronbach’s coefficient alpha reliability coefficient.
*p< .05. **p< .01.
8 JOURNAL OF CAREER ASSESSMENT / February 2005
DISCUSSION
The results of this study indicate that there were significant relationships between
the Big Five traits and career decidedness. The hypothesis that Emotional
Stability would be positively, significantly related to career decidedness was
observed only for the 12th-grade sample, particularly for 12th-grade females.
Why this might be is a question for future research, although we note here two
countervailing hypotheses. It may be that by the time they reach the 12th grade,
Table 3
Means, Standard Deviations, Coefficient Alphas, and
Intercorrelations of Study Variables for 12th Graders (n= 282)
(1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6)
Agreeableness (1) (.80) .32** .32** .27** .24* .13*
Conscientiousness (2) (.84) .19** .21** .24** .22**
Emotional Stability (3) (.81) .13* .15* .17**
Extraversion (4) (.86) .35** .08
Openness (5) (.79) .16**
Career Decidedness (6) (.93)
Mean 3.49 3.37 3.02 3.94 3.33 3.47
Standard deviation .59 .65 .67 .56 .56 1.01
Note: Values in the diagonal represent Cronbach’s coefficient alpha reliability coefficient.
*p< .05. **p< .01.
Table 4
Correlations Between Big Five Traits and Career
Decidedness for Male and Female Students by Grade
7th Grade 10th Grade 12th Grade
Males Females Males Females Males Females
(n= 130) (n= 118) (n= 149) (n= 176) (n= 140) (n= 146)
Agreeableness .20* .17 .01 .06 .11 .12
Conscientiousness .31** .33** .11 .33** .22** .20*
Emotional Stability –.02 .11 .02 .05 .12 .23**
Extraversion .03 .18 .05 .05 .03 .09
Openness .15 .21* .06 –.01 .15 .14
*p< .05. **p< .01.
Lounsbury et al. / CAREER DECIDEDNESS AND BIG FIVE 9
more emotionally stable females are more confident and less subject to worries
and anxieties, which allows them to make career decisions. On the other hand,
the reverse may be true in that 12th-grade females who have decided on a career
are less anxious, are less worried, and feel more security and confidence.
As hypothesized, Conscientiousness was positively and significantly correlated
with career decidedness in all three grades. In other words, middle and high
school students who were more orderly, rule-following, dutiful, reliable, and
structured were more likely to have decided on a career. That the conscientious-
ness–career decidedness relationship persisted from the 6th to the 12th grade
indicates that it has continuity over this segment of the life span. There are
a number of different possible explanations for this relationship. For example,
it may be that conscientious behaviors include activities leading to career
decidedness. A more orderly, structured student may be more systematic and
persistent in exploring and choosing a career that he or she wants to pursue.
Or, it may be that more conscientious students have more conscientious parents
who serve as positive role models for specific careers and facilitate student
introjection of parental career values and choices. On the other hand, it may
be that more conscientious students, who also tend to have higher grade point
averages (Lounsbury, Tatum, et al., 2003), have received more attention and
encouragement from teachers and counselors in the area of career planning and
development.
Two other relationships were found to be significant for the 7th-and 12th-
grade samples. Openness and Agreeableness were found to be positively related
to career decidedness for these middle and high school students. Students who
were more open to new learning and experience may also have been more
inclined to explore career alternatives and find careers that best suit them. They
might also have been more open to career input from teachers, counselors, par-
ents, and other sources of information. Possible explanations for the relationship
between agreeableness and career decidedness are less immediately obvious.
However, in line with Wentzel’s (1993) finding that teachers prefer students who
are more cooperative, it may be that more agreeable students receive more atten-
tion and reinforcement in the area of career choice from teachers, counselors,
and others who influence them.
There were more significant correlations between the Big Five traits and
career decidedness at the 12th-grade level (four of the five correlations were sig-
nificant) than at the 7th-or 10th-grade level. This may reflect more personality
maturation at the 12th grade, with more linkages between personality character-
istics and other variables, outcomes, and criteria, including career decidedness.
The analysis of Big Five–career decidedness relationships for males and
females revealed more similarities than differences, which is consistent with
many areas of adolescent research that found no differences in construct relations
for males and females (see Muuss, 1996).
Although the present results point toward the usefulness of the Big Five model
in accounting for career decidedness, the results can also be interpreted as
10 JOURNAL OF CAREER ASSESSMENT / February 2005
reflecting modest effects of personality on career decidedness. For example, in
the case of the eight significant correlations between the Big Five traits and
career decidedness presented in Table 4, only three were larger in magnitude
than .30. Even in the case of the highest correlation for 7th- and 10th-grade
females, only 11% of the variance in career decidedness can be accounted for by
conscientiousness. Clearly, there are opportunities for many other variables—
such as vocational interests, career planning programs, and parental or teacher
support for career exploration—to explain variation in career decidedness.
One other interesting, and perhaps disconcerting, finding was the lack of sig-
nificant increase in career decidedness from 7th to 10th to 12th grade. Most
school administrators, teachers, and counselors would like to see students
become more decided about careers as students move from middle school to the
end of high school. Although we cannot directly assess the relative frequency of
students who are career-decided in this study, we can estimate it indirectly. If we
consider an average score of 3.5 and higher on the 5-point scale to reflect career
decidedness, only 45% of the total sample of students could be considered to be
decided about what they want to do for a career. This may not be an unrepre-
sentative statistic, given that it has been estimated that up to 50% of college stu-
dents are undecided about their careers (Gordon, 1981). The present result may
reflect the lack of systematic career planning and development available in the
schools under study, which may have even greater implication for many schools
today in these times of decreasing school budgets and allocations for “nonessen-
tial” educational functions.
Implications
One of the implications of the present study is that it might be possible to use
these findings to make early identifications of students who might be at risk for
not deciding on a career path. For example, measurement of the Big Five per-
sonality traits could enable counselors or school psychologists to predict which
students are less likely to be career decided, so that they could better plan and
respond proactively. Also, it may be possible to tailor career development pro-
grams to personality characteristics. By way of illustration, for individuals low on
conscientiousness, teachers or counselors could try to provide more opportunities
for flexible, self-directed career exploration in unstructured settings, rather than
having organized programs requiring conformity to procedures.
Another implication of the present study is that it provides a benchmark
against which the effects of other variables, interventions, and programs related
to career decision making can be assessed. Because personality attributes precede
most variables of interest in the career arena, future studies involving the role of
other career variables should examine their relative contribution to career decid-
edness after personality traits have been accounted for. At present, it is an open
question whether any situational or environmental effect contributes any signifi-
Lounsbury et al. / CAREER DECIDEDNESS AND BIG FIVE 11
cant variance in adolescent career decidedness beyond the variance explained by
the Big Five traits.
One other implication of our study is that there appear to be fairly low levels
of career decidedness in middle school and high school with no significant
increase in career decidedness from 7th to 12th grade. Such a pattern of results
underscores the need for more extensive career development efforts in our mid-
dle schools and high schools.
Limitations
There are several limitations of the present study. First, we were not able to meas-
ure any other variables that could have served as control variables, such as intel-
lectual or cognitive abilities of the student, socioeconomic status, and parental
career characteristics. Also, this study was limited to a single geographic locale
and did not exhibit much ethnic diversity. We also were not able to study either
the longitudinal stability or subsequent consequences of career decidedness.
Additionally, we did not examine actual the actual occupational choices associ-
ated with higher levels of career decidedness.
CONCLUSION
Our findings indicate that Big Five personality traits are related to career decid-
edness, with Conscientiousness being consistently positively related to career
decidedness for all three grades and Agreeableness and Openness being signifi-
cantly, positively related to career decidedness in the 7th and 12th grades.
Although the magnitude of the observed personality relationships with career
decidedness was modest, the Big Five model should prove to be a useful frame-
work for future research on the dispositional basis of career decidedness, and the
role of other personality systems should be explored. It will be interesting to
examine the effects of situational variables or career development programs on
career decidedness above and beyond the effects of personality.
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