Date of Award

Spring 2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Psychology and Behavioral Sciences

First Advisor

Donna Thomas


Career indecision is a growing problem for present day college students. As more and more students attend college right out of high school, rates of' indecision are also rising. The consequences of this include increased time to graduation, increased student loans, and decreased likelihood of career satisfaction and fit. While most institutions of higher learning offer services to help students choose a major and career path, these services remain underutilized. Research in this area has focused on investigating the effectiveness of these interventions, with little attention given to methods of increasing utilization of these services as well as career exploratory behaviors.

A method of increasing behavioral compliance which has been extensively researched is message framing, positing that the way a message is worded can affect an individual's receptiveness to that message and likelihood of engaging in the target behavior of the message. This idea has been successfully applied within a wide range of domains, particularly health psychology; however, the application of message framing to increase career exploratory behaviors has not been sufficiently explored.

This study sought to explore the effect of a message frame on career exploratory behaviors in a sample of college students in order to provide a better understanding of how message framing can be applied within the career domain, which may assist colleges in better marketing their career services in order to decrease career indecisiveness. A sample of undergraduate students was used and participants were randomly assigned to one of two groups, one received the gain frame message and one received the loss frame message. All participants completed two surveys measuring the variables that were hypothesized to moderate message frame receptivity, locus of control and career decision self-efficacy. Participants answered three questions about how persuasive they found the message and their self-reported intent to engage in career exploratory behaviors after reading the message. It was hypothesized that there would be significant between group differences and that locus of control and career decision self-efficacy would moderate message receptivity and behavioral response to the message. No significant between group differences were found and no significant effects of moderating variables were found; however, recommendations for further research are discussed.