Date of Award

Summer 2013

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Psychology and Behavioral Sciences

First Advisor

Walter Buboltz


The study was designed to examine, from a family system theory and a contextual approach, the impact of family environment on career thoughts, career indecision, and vocational identity. It further expanded career development research to include the need for achievement by examining the relationship between need for achievement and career-related variables. A sample of 211 undergraduate college students was administered the Family Environment Scale, Career Decision Scale, Career Thoughts Inventory, My Vocational Situation, and Personal Values Questionnaire. The results revealed a limited relationship between the family of origin and career development outcome measures. Specifically, independence and expressiveness in the family of origin environment were positively related to vocational identity. Independence was also negatively related to career indecision. Thus, some aspects of the family environment were shown to be important in career development.

Career thoughts were shown to be important factors that influence an individual's career decision-making process and overall vocational development. Dysfunctional career thoughts (commitment anxiety, decision-making confusion, and external conflict) mediated some relationships among family environment variables, career indecision, and vocational identity. Need for achievement was not found to be related to career indecision or vocational identity. Though additional research is suggested, the need for achievement was not shown to be a salient factor in career development. Overall, the results of the study suggested that there are different mechanisms interacting between individual (e.g., dysfunctional career thoughts) and contextual factors (e.g., family expressiveness) that influence career decision making and the development of vocational identity.