Person-environment congruence and the identity development of young adults: converging two theories of career development



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Texas A&M University


According to Erik Erikson (1950), adolescents and young adults are highly engaged in the process of identity development with intentions to avoid a state of diffusion and role confusion. Several researchers (e.g., Bordin, 1990; Krumboltz, 1979; Lofquist & Dawis, 1991; Super, 1957) in the area of career development have attempted to explain how identity relates to the career selection process for young adults, all seeming to describe a similar construct, that of self identity. Perhaps the most popular theory of career development, Holland??s (1959) theory, clarified the identity construct by Holland's Vocational Identity is first compared to Marcia's four ego identity statuses (Diffusion, Foreclosure, Moratorium, and Achieved), indicating a positive relationship to ego identity development. Second, person-environment (P-E) congruence was compared to Erikson's/Marcia's four identity statuses and Vocational Identity, revealing no relationship between the variables. However, strong relationships were apparent for P-E Congruence and well-being measures, including satisfaction with academic major, stability in academic major, and academic achievement. In further investigation of the identity formation process, identity variables were compared to measures of well-being. Using canonical correlation analysis, the first canonical function showed Vocational Identity as a strong indicator of well-being. Canonical correlation analysis was also used to compare measures of career development with Erikson's/Marcia's ego identity development. Results revealed a strong statistical relationship with the first canonical root, indicating Vocational Identity and career decision making both appear to be strongly related to the Achieved identity status. These findings further support the theoretical connection between ego identity and career development process. Considering limitations of the study, implications for theory and practice and recommendations for future research are provided. describing Vocational Identity as the possession of a clear and stable picture of one??s goals, interests, and talents. This study sought to clarify similarities between Erikson??s theory of identity development and Holland??s theory of vocational choice. To assess the relationship between identity formation and career development, 206 college students completed scales measuring ego identity formation, using Marcia??s (1966) empirical representation of Erikson??s theory, Vocational Identity, measures of congruence, measures of well-being, and Career Indecision.