Peer attachment and career indecision

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Document Type

Journal Article

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Hicks, R.E., & Alexander, V. (2012). Peer attachment and career indecision. Australian Journal of Counselling Psychology, 12 (1), 10- 18.

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2012 HERDC submission.

© Copyright Australian Psychological Society, 2012




Parental attachment has long been recognised as impacting on life styles, decision-making and emotional regulation throughout life. Peer attachment has been suggested as being more important than the parental attachment styles as adolescents and young adults seek to clarify their identity and choose career paths and romantic partners into early adulthood stages and beyond, though little has been written about peer attachment compared with parental attachment influences. This is especially the case in respect to deciding on a career. There have been many studies on career indecision (and career certainty), linking career indecision with intrapersonal variables such as personality and mental health inadequacies, and with specific parental attachment influences; however, the peer attachment influences on career decision making have been given little attention. To begin exploring this gap, we examined the question "how are peer attachment variables (trust, communication, and alienation) related to career indecision?" We surveyed more than 142 university students using the Osipow Career Decision Scale and the peer attachment scale of the Armsden and Greenberg Inventory of Parent and Peer Attachment. All three peer attachment variables were correlated with career certainty in the expected direction; peer trust and peer alienation but not peer communication levels were correlated significantly with career indecision. Peer Trust and Peer Alienation together significantly predicted career indecision (with peer alienation a very strong predictor). It appears that levels of Peer Alienation strongly impact on levels of career decisiveness. Implications include that peer alienation levels should be examined and targeted for possible improvement when dealing with career decision making.

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