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The role of attachment and social support in vocational maturity

ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, 2009
Dissertation
Author: Jason Gallo
Abstract:
Much research has been conducted to underscore the positive influence of a secure attachment style on numerous adaptive behaviors and the potential negative impact of insecure attachment. Previous research has shown a positive relationship between secure attachment and some elements of adaptive career behavior. However, thus far, the relationship between attachment and all dimensions of vocational maturity set forth by Super (1977) have not been studied. The first goal of the present study was to examine whether or not a significant relationship exists between attachment and all dimensions of vocational maturity. A sample of college students ( n = 140) was used. Results revealed that secure attachment was significantly related to all dimensions of vocational maturity. A second goal of this study was to evaluate the common conclusion in the attachment literature that individuals not securely attached from their early life experiences may be destined for more difficulties in multiple domains of their lives. It was proposed that there may be opportunities beyond early life experiences that may abate the adverse role of insecure attachment in career development. This investigation questioned to what extent subsequent social support might counteract the predicted career outcomes of early insecure attachment by testing to see if social support played a moderating role in the relationship between secure attachment and vocational maturity. Results supported a moderating role of social support, such that when social support was high, the impact of attachment on career maturity was found to not be as great as when social support was low. Thus, since secure attachment was more influential on vocational maturity when social support was low, it was concluded that social support may act as a protective factor against the previously established negative implications of insecure attachment.

v Table of Contents I. CHAPTER ONE: STATEMENT OF PROBLEM………………………………....1 II. CHAPTER TWO: LITERATURE REVIEW……………………………………..6 Attachment Theory………………………………………………………………………..6 Super’s Theory of Vocational Maturity…………………………………………………...9 Attachment Effects on Career Behaviors………………………………………………...12 Social Support Theory and Research…………………………………………………….18 Social Support and Career Development………………………………………………...21 Summary and Hypothesis………………………………………………………………..23 III. CHAPTER THREE: METHOD………………………………………………….26 Design…………………....................................................................................................26 Participants……………………………………………………………………………….28 Power Analysis and Sample Size………………………………………………………...30 Measures……………………………………………………………………………........34 Measure of Attachment Qualities………………………………………………..34 Career Development Inventory…………………………………………………..37 Child and Adolescent Social Support Scale……………………………………...41 Demographics Questionnaire…………………………………………………….42 Procedure………………………………………………………………………………...42 Statistical Analysis……………………………………………………………………….43 IV. CHAPTER FOUR: RESULTS……………………………………………………44 Descriptive Statistics……………………………………………………………………..44 Research Measures……………………………………………………………………….46

vi Test of the Hypotheses…………………………………………………………………...47 Exploratory Analysis…………………………………………………………………….50 V. CHAPTER FIVE: DISCUSSION………………………………………………….53 REFERENCES…………………………………………………………………………..64 APPENDIX A. Participant Information Form…………………………………………..73 APPENDIX B. Informed Consent Agreement………………………………………….74 APPENDIX C. Correlations Between Specific Sources of Social Support, as reported on the CASSS, and the Independent and Dependent Variables…………...75

LIST OF TABLES: Table 1. Descriptive Statistics…………………………………………………………...30 Table 2. Correlations Between Demographic Variables, and Demographic Variables correlations with the Independent and Dependent Variables………………...45

Table 3. Descriptive Statistics of Measures……………………………………………..46

Table 4. Correlations Between the Secure Attachment Scale and the Four Dimensions of Career Maturity…...................................................................................47

Table 5. Correlations Between Social Support Total and the Four Dimensions of Career Maturity………………………………………………………………………48

Table 6. Relationship between Secure Attachment and COT as Moderated by Social Support Total……………………………………………………………………50

Table 7. Correlations Between the Secure Attachment Scale and CDA, CDK, and COT……………………………………………………..…………...51

Table 8. Correlations Between Social Support Total CDA, CDK, and COT…………...52

1 CHAPTER ONE STATEMENT OF PROBLEM Attachment is the affectional tie that children form between themselves and their parents or caretakers (Ainsworth, 1989). Secure attachment provides a safe haven and a secure base from which to explore and learn about the world (Bowlby, 1988). The development of secure attachment, resulting from the close affectional ties between a child and primary caregiver, can serve to provide an experience of felt security that can benefit individuals throughout their lives. Attachment theorists (Ainsworth, 1989; Bowlby, 1982) propose that individuals who experience felt security resulting from effective relationships early in their lives are better equipped to negotiate developmental tasks and transitions. Secure attachment has been shown to have a positive relationship with numerous adaptive behaviors, such as higher self-esteem (Arbona & Power, 2003), greater levels of emotional intelligence (Kim, 2005) and an increase in social skills for adolescents (Allen et al., 2002). It also has been found to have a strong negative relationship with less adaptive behaviors, such as cigarette smoking, delinquency, violence, and alcohol and marijuana use in adolescents (Allen et al., 2002; Anderson, Holmes, & Ostresh, 1999; Dornbusch et al, 2001; Sokol, Dunham, & Zimmerman, 1997). Among the domains in which attachment appears to play a role is that of vocational behavior, where attachment has been linked with elements of adaptive career behavior. Previous research on the role of attachment relationships in career development has shown that a secure attachment was related to progress in commitment to career choices (Blustein, Walbridge, Friedlander, & Palladino, 1991), and appeared to be an important facilitative ingredient of career exploration (Grotevant & Cooper, 1988).

2 Similarly, research by Ketterson and Blustein (1997) revealed a relationship between attachment and career exploration. Although these initial findings are promising in terms of establishing a role for attachment in vocational behavior, they fail to capture the full spectrum of adaptation in career development. Further, these studies have neglected the main construct in the vocational domain that has been advanced to define adaptive career behavior: vocational maturity (Super, 1977). Although research has shown the relationship between attachment and some dimensions of vocational maturity, including career exploration (Ketterson & Blustein, 1997), work satisfaction and confidence (Hazan & Shaver, 1990), career development (Kenny, 1990), career exploration and planning (Lee & Hughey, 2001), and progress in commitment to career choice process (Blustein, et al., 1991), it has failed to link attachment to other kinds of vocational behavior that are encompassed in Super’s theory of vocational maturity. Vocational maturity is defined as the extent to which an individual has progressed through the vocational developmental sequence and can be viewed as an index of developmental preparedness (Phillips & Pazienza, 1988). Level of vocational maturity can be determined by one’s ability to manage the career developmental tasks one is faced with as compared to others at the same life stage. A higher level of vocational maturity is thought to produce preferred outcomes by aiding in one’s ability to appropriately cope with career tasks at a given life stage (Super, 1977). Given the importance of vocational maturity to satisfactory career development, an important question to address is whether the role of attachment is restricted to certain discrete elements of career maturity, or whether it plays a role in facilitating (or impeding) the full range of attitudinal and cognitive aspects of vocational maturity set

3 forth by Super. The attitudinal dimensions include extent of planning and exploration of resources. The cognitive dimensions are career decision making, career development information, world of work information, and information about preferred occupations. Thus, the first question this study will attempt to address is whether or not a significant relationship exists between attachment and all dimensions of vocational maturity. The second question concerns the ways in which the adverse role of insecure attachment in career development might be abated. Findings from research thus far do not bode well for individuals who are insecurely attached (Dornbusch et al, 2001; Allen et al., 2002; Sokol, Dunham, & Zimmerman, 1997; Anderson, Holmes, & Ostresh, 1999), where the common conclusion is that individuals not securely attached from their early experiences may be destined for more difficulties in multiple domains of their lives. With this conclusion, the question may be raised as to whether or not there are ways in which the negative implications of an insecure attachment could be offset. There may be opportunities after the initial attachment experiences, and, perhaps, beyond the nuclear family, that might serve to counteract the effects of the initial attachment experience. This would seem particularly possible in the area of career development, where the actions of significant others in a child's life -- such as a teacher, a coach, an employer, peers – might serve to promote the kinds of career behaviors needed for adaptive career development to occur. The notion that the support of one's social environment might serve to counteract otherwise adverse circumstances has been widely cited in a variety of health, psychological, and educational outcomes (Bowen & Chapma, 1996; Cohen & Wills, 1985; Cutrona & Russell, 1990; Malecki & Demaray, 2002; Sebald, 1989). Further, in a

4 recent study (Poll, 2003) the role of social support was found to be significant in accounting for positive vocational outcomes where they would otherwise have been unexpected. These promising results have not yet been extended to the domain of attachment, however, and the question remains to what extent subsequent social support might counteract the predicted career outcomes of early insecure attachment. The present study proposes to investigate whether or not social support can act as an “intervention strategy” after the initial attachment experience to offset the previously reported affects of insecure attachment. These questions about the role of attachment in career maturity, and about possible relational antidotes to insecure attachment, are particularly important to consider during the period of adolescence. It is a time of continued development and growth, and a transition from childhood to adulthood. Adolescents are expected to start making vocationally related decisions that can have a lasting effect on their lives. Educational and family values and relationships, as well as peer influences, can affect these decisions. The intention of the present study is to further investigate the importance of early attachment relationships on vocational maturity in late adolescence. The objective is to build on the research of Ketterson & Blustein, (1997), Blustein et al, (1991), Hazan and Shaver (1990), Kenny (1990), and Lee and Hughey (2001) to determine if the documented relationship of attachment with aspects of vocational behavior will be found with all dimensions of vocational maturity. It is hypothesized that securely attached individuals will display greater vocational maturity than those who are not securely attached. The present study also aims to determine if subsequent social support can play a moderating role on the relationship between attachment and vocational maturity, such

5 that subsequent social support can offset the negative effects of early insecure attachment on adaptive vocational behavior.

6 CHAPTER TWO LITERATURE REVIEW The following section provides a review of attachment theory and of Super’s theory of vocational maturity. This is followed by a review of the research literature in which the relationship between parental attachment and career behaviors has been studied. A description of social support and how it relates to career development is then provided. The review concludes with a proposal to investigate the effect of parental attachment on all dimensions of vocational maturity and whether social support may act to mediate the relationship between attachment and vocational maturity. Attachment Theory Much of the theoretical basis of attachment theory comes from the work of Bowlby (1982, 1988) and Ainsworth (1989). According to Bowlby and Ainsworth, the development of attachment relationships results from the close affectional ties between the child and caregiver that provide the experience of felt security. It is regularities in interactions with caregivers that foster a sense of security within children that are the core of attachment relationships (Bowlby, 1982). As individuals develop and become cognitively sophisticated, these regularities become represented in internal working models (Bowlby, 1982). These internal working models of attachment correspond to relational schema (Baldwin, 1992). Since schemas are believed to be enduring structures that have a continued effect on experience and behavior after their formation, internal working models of attachment relationships may provide an enduring experience of felt security throughout the life span (Blustein, Prezioso, & Schultheiss, 1995). Attachment relationships are believed to be expressed in interactions with other significant figures,

7 such as close friends, companions, and intimates, as the individual matures throughout the life span (Ainsworth, 1989). Attachment theory emphasizes the quality of care an infant receives from the caregiver. Differences in the quality of child-caregiver interaction affect the type of attachment formed. The three patterns of attachment described by Ainsworth et al., (1978) are secure, avoidant, and anxious-ambivalent. A secure attachment is considered the best possible. When there is a secure base there is a balance between attachment and exploratory behavior that allows the infant to use the caregiver as a safe and reliable anchor from which to explore and return to for reassurance. Babies are happy exploring new surroundings when the caregiver is nearby (Ainsworth, et al., 1978). Anxious- ambivalent infants have caregivers characterized as emotionally unavailable and display affection inconsistently. These infants tend to be highly dependent and cling to caregivers, particularly in times of imminent separation (Ainsworth, 1989). Avoidant attachment style is believed to develop when the primary caregiver rejects and rebuffs their infants’ repeated efforts for closeness. These children long for intimacy but fear rejection, struggle with autonomy, and cling to things rather than people (Holmes, 1996). The attachment relationship with the caregiver develops over the first year and continues to evolve in toddlerhood and beyond (Bowlby, 1982). One of the major tenets of attachment theory is that secure attachments help to foster exploration of novel environments. Exploration is conceptualized in attachment theory as an individual’s initiatives and forays into new physical and social interactions, and novel social roles (Bowlby, 1982). Exploration is believed to occur throughout the life span and is represented by a behavioral system that works by enabling the individual

8 to learn about and develop skills in relating to the external world (Bowlby, 1982). According to attachment theory, the experience of felt security, which is established by the child-caregiver interactions, promotes explorations that will result in greater levels of knowledge about the world and social competence (Bowlby, 1982; Hazan & Shaver, 1990). This idea has been widely applied in the literature on attachment theory, which suggests that secure attachment also provides a basis for successful negotiations of issues of intimacy and exploration for adults (Vasquez, Durik, & Hyde, 2002). Further, research has begun to investigate the relationship between attachment style and exploration of novel environments. In a qualitative study of 193 adult respondent interviews, Spivak (1995) found that individuals classified as securely attached reported having a greater propensity for exploration than those classified as non-securely attached. In a separate study of 158 college undergraduates, Ketterson (2000) found secure attachment to be associated with greater environmental exploration when contrasted with avoidant attachment. Similarly, Felsman and Blustein (1999) found that for 147 participants aged 17 to 22 years, attachment to mother was positively associated with environmental exploration. One of the “novel” environments individuals explore as they develop is the environment of the career world. The transition to the world of work entails a new set of experiences for adolescents. In this, individuals need to explore unfamiliar settings, take on new challenges, make decisions, take risks, and initiate new relationships. Blustein, Prezioso, and Schultheiss (1995) contend that it is the feelings of security established through attachment relationships that may facilitate the exploration of new environmental and intrapsychic domains that are central to progress in career development. Exploration

9 of the vocational arena and how it relates to attachment will be discussed further after an explanation of the theory of vocational maturity. Super’s Theory of Vocational Maturity Super (1977) defined vocational maturity as one’s ability to handle the vocational or career developmental tasks with which one is confronted. Vocational maturity is conceptualized as an individual’s ability to cope with these tasks compared with others who are at the same life stage and dealing with the same developmental tasks. Vocational maturity indicates whether or not vocational development is appropriate for the person’s age, and how far below or beyond his or her vocational development is relative to chronological age (Super, 1955). In his early writing on vocational maturity Super (1955) theorized five distinct dimensions of the concept of vocational maturity. The first dimension, orientation to vocational choice, entailed concern with choice, use of resources in orientation, and range of occupational information of jobs in general. The second dimension was information and planning about preferred occupation. This was different than the first dimension in that the elements of it consist of information rather than attitudes. Consistency of vocational preferences was Super’s third dimension. This dimension took into consideration the stabilization of preferences over time. The fourth dimension was crystallization of traits, which entailed such things as vocational independence, interest maturity, and patterning of interests, with more crystallization occurring when a person’s primary interests fall into a given family of occupations versus an interest pattern that does not fall into a family of occupations and is more sporadic. Super’s fifth dimension was wisdom of vocational preferences. It was believed that since occupations were

10 characterized by different levels of intelligence in their workers, wisdom of a vocational preference possibly could be judged in part by the similarity of the intellectual level of the individual and of their preferred occupations (Super, 1955). Super and Thompson (1979) noted that attempts to measure and refine vocational maturity initially revealed that it was a complex, multidimensional construct. The original dimensions of vocational maturity were revised to include extent of planning, use and evaluation of resources in exploration, career decision making, career development information, world of work information, information about preferred occupations, and reality orientation (Super, 1976). Part of the further theoretical refinement and research on vocational maturity (Super & Thompson, 1979) revealed two factors of vocational maturity: attitudinal and cognitive. Two dimensions are attitudinally based: extent of planning refers to how much thought is given to planning career-relevant activities, progression of this planning, and knowledge about jobs and occupations. Exploration of resources refers to resources used to seek vocational information and knowledge about sources of educational and occupational information. Cognitively based dimensions are career decision making

(ability to select appropriate alternatives), career development information (knowledge of how careers develop), world of work information (general occupational information), and information about preferred occupations (knowledge of occupations of greatest interest). Where the first two dimensions deal with an individual’s attitudes and willingness to use resources, the later dimensions pertain to knowledge of educational and occupational worlds.

11 The Career Development Inventory (CDI) was created to measure the dimensions of vocational maturity, and has been modified as Super’s theory has been refined. The current version of the CDI (Thompson et al., 1984) consists of four main subscales (Career Planning, Career Exploration, Decision-Making Skills, and World of Work Information). A fifth scale, Knowledge of Preferred Occupations, provides an individualized index of specific occupational knowledge. The Career Planning and Career Exploration subscales primarily assess the attitudinal components of vocational maturity, and the Decision-Making Skills and World of Work Information assess the cognitive dimensions of vocational maturity. The importance of vocational maturity in order to successfully negotiate the tasks of each career stage has been emphasized by researchers and practitioners alike. The development of vocational maturity and career choice readiness are particularly crucial to adolescents who are trying to specify educational and vocational choices (Savickas, 1994). Attitudinal and cognitive aspects of vocational maturity are also believed to be critical for the development of identity status for late adolescents (Raskin, 1989). Research by Kelly and Colangelo (1990) revealed a strong positive relationship between academic achievement and career maturity, highlighting the importance of early career guidance that fosters the development of career maturity. The results of a separate study by Savickas, Briddick and Watkins (2002) showed that competence in career development was related to greater realization of one’s potential and a higher degree of social adjustment. Their results also revealed that more mature attitudes toward career planning and exploration were related to an adjustment style characterized by extraversion in interpersonal relationships and a positive orientation to social norms.

12 Phillips and Blustein (1994) highlighted the practical importance of vocational maturity, specifically the construct of readiness. They noted that from a developmental point of view, individuals who are developmentally “on target”, in terms of this construct, possess the prerequisite attitudes and behaviors to cope with stage-related tasks. Considering the relationship that has been found between vocational maturity and positive developmental behaviors during adolescence, it would seem to be beneficial to find ways to increase vocational maturity, particularly for individuals whose early childhood experiences may have inhibited the development of this. Attachment Effects on Career Behaviors Given the importance of vocational maturity, there have been numerous efforts to document the characteristics and experiences that may facilitate the development of vocational maturity. Among these efforts are those that focus on individuals formative experiences, in general, and on parental attachment, in particular. Blustein, Prezioso, and Schultheiss (1995) describe a developing trend in the attachment literature, that being the application of attachment to phases of development beyond early childhood. The underlying theme is that through internal working models, the availability of attachment figures in one’s childhood and later life can be predictive of a range of adaptive outcomes throughout the life span, including progress in career development (Blustein et al., 1991). The rationale provided by Blustein et al. (1991) for using attachment theory to describe career development was that the transition from adolescence into the adult world is characterized by emotionally challenging exploration into diverse new roles and settings, reminiscent of the separation struggles of early childhood (Blustein et al., 1995). Supporting this view is research finding that

13 attachment relationships have been shown to be useful in understanding various behaviors and developmental transitions vital to career development, such as ego identity formation (Rice, 1990) and adult work behavior (Hazan & Shaver, 1990). Several studies have been conducted to investigate the connections between attachment and career behaviors, with promising results. A study by Ketterson and Blustein (1997) examined the effects of parent-adolescent attachment relationships in the career exploration process. In their study 87 female and 50 male undergraduates aged 17 to 32 years completed measures of parent attachment and career exploration. The results showed that there was a positive relationship between attachment to parents and exploration of the career environment, such that those securely attached engaged in more career exploration. Hazan and Shaver (1990) investigated the possibility that work in adulthood is functionally similar to attachment and exploration in infancy and early childhood. They felt that in the manner in which attachments can be more or less healthy or secure, so too can different forms of work behavior (Hazan & Shaver, 1990). Drawing on the theory of Ainsworth et al. (1978) that avoidant infants explore to avoid contact with their mother, Hazan and Shaver (1990) believed adults can use their work as a distraction from relational difficulties. For someone with an anxious/ambivalent attachment style, work can be used as an opportunity to satisfy attachment needs, which can interfere with job performance (Hazan & Shaver, 1990). Hazan and Shaver (1990) hypothesized that securely attached individuals would report a secure orientation, which would include high work success and satisfaction, and fewer work-related fears and anxieties concerning performance and evaluation. Anxious/ambivalent attachment would be associated with a

14 preference for working with others and a tendency to become over-obligated to try to please others, feelings of being under appreciated and fearing failure, which could become distracting and lead to job difficulties and poor performance. Also, they hypothesized that avoidant adults use work exploration as a way to keep busy, avoid uncomfortable interactions with others, and avoid anxiety associated with unmet attachment needs. Hazan and Shaver (1990) analyzed the replies of 670 participants, ranging in age from 18 to 79 years, on a questionnaire they developed that measured attachment type, job satisfaction, relationship and work enjoyment, leisure activities, a symptom checklist for loneliness, and demographic information. The results of the study supported their hypotheses, as securely attached individuals reported high levels of work satisfaction and confidence and were relatively unburdened by fears of failure. Anxious/ambivalent individuals reported feelings of job insecurity, lack of appreciation and recognition by co- workers, and a fear of rejection for poor work performance. Avoidantly attached individuals reported dissatisfaction with co-workers, use of work activities to avoid social interactions, and less satisfaction with their jobs (Hazan & Shaver, 1990). Their findings provide support for the contention that the formation of a secure attachment style is associated with the development of positive career behaviors. This positive association between a secure attachment style and certain positive aspects of vocational behavior has also been shown in college students. Research by Kenny (1990) suggests that an adaptive level of attachment between late adolescents and their parents may be beneficial for the development of some elements of career maturity. Kenny’s (1990) study was directed toward assessing the extent and function of parental

15 attachment among college seniors. Kenny believed that career maturity, defined in this study as the extent to which the student has engaged in thinking and planning for future education and career possibilities, is an important aspect of competence for college seniors because they are at a point in which career decisions are extremely relevant. Her sample of 159 college seniors answered questionnaires with a measure of parental attachment developed by Kenny (1987), and the Career Planning Scale of the College and University Form of the Career Development Inventory (CDI) to assess career maturity. The results of the study showed that secure parental attachment was positively associated with self-reports of planning for college seniors. Kenny concluded that the findings of the study were congruent with the lifespan view of attachment that “substantial relationships between children and parents continue through the college years, and the support offered is associated with competent functioning” (p.44). Based on her findings, Kenny (1990) argued that an adaptive level of attachment between late adolescents and their parents is beneficial for developmental progress, and that this progress includes the development of career behaviors. Further, several theorists suggest that the kind of risk-taking and exploration that encompass the developmental tasks of late adolescence may be facilitated by some degree of attachment (Grotevant & Cooper, 1988; Kenny, 1990). This literature led Blustein et al. (1991) to speculate that for young adults, familial attachment provides a secure base from which to undertake the challenging tasks of committing to a career choice. Examining this notion, Blustein et al. (1991) conducted a study to test the hypothesis that attachment should predict progress in the commitment to career choice process. In that study 178 undergraduates completed the mother and father attachment subscales of the revised version of the Inventory of

16 Parent and Peer Attachment (IPPA; Armsden & Grennberg, 1987) to measure parental attachment, and the Vocational Exploration and Commitment Scale (VECS; Blustein, Ellis, & Devenis, 1989) to assess progress in committing to career choices. Their results supported the idea that parental attachment provides the most facilitative family conditions with respect to the commitment to career choice process. A study by Lee and Hughey (2001) provided more support for the idea that parental attachment plays an important role in some elements of career maturity of college-aged adolescents. Their study investigated the relationship of psychological separation and parental attachment to career maturity of college freshman. A sample of 82 college freshmen (40 men and 42 women) between the ages of 16 and 24 completed a set of measures including the Psychological Separation Inventory (PSI; Hoffman, 1984) to measure the degree of psychological separation from parents, the IPPA to assess attachment, and selected scales from the CDI, the Career Planning and Career Exploration subscales, to measure the attitudinal component of career maturity. Their results showed that when considered alone, psychological separation was not significantly associated with career maturity. However, their findings did provide further empirical evidence for the idea that a secure attachment to parents plays an important role in career development. They found a significant relationship between parental attachment and career development such that individuals who were securely attached engaged in more career development behaviors, specifically exploration and planning. They concluded that “studies of parental attachment and career development seem to provide support for the notion that a secure relationship between parent and child may facilitate progress in one’s career development” (Lee & Hughey, 2001, p.289).

17 Multiple authors have conceptualized similarities between the processes of career development and parental attachment. In Blustein et al. (1991) and Blustein et al. (1995), it was theorized that the transition to the adult world requires emotionally challenging exploration, reminiscent of separation struggles of early childhood. Similarly, Hazan and Shaver (1990) conceptualized that work in adulthood is functionally similar to attachment and exploration in early childhood. Building upon these theorized similarities, research has found that a secure attachment style has a positive significant relationship with numerous career behaviors, including career exploration (Ketterson & Blustein, 1997), work satisfaction and confidence (Hazan & Shaver, 1990), career development (Kenny, 1990), and progress in commitment to career choice process (Blustein et al., 1991). Although the research so far has provided support for the idea that a secure attachment is more beneficial to foster career development, it is incomplete with regards to career maturity. Some of the attitudinal dimensions have been documented (e.g., exploration and planning), but none of the cognitive dimensions have been investigated thus far. The proposed study intends to expand upon the attachment and career development research to investigate a positive relationship will exist between attachment and all of the cognitive and attitudinal dimensions of vocational maturity. Given that attachment can restrict behaviors that would lead to acquiring knowledge, it is hypothesized that this study will reveal results that include a positive relationship between attachment and the cognitive dimensions of vocational maturity (decision-making skills and world of work information), in addition to providing further evidence for the already established relationship between attachment and the attitudinal dimensions of vocational maturity.

Full document contains 82 pages
Abstract: Much research has been conducted to underscore the positive influence of a secure attachment style on numerous adaptive behaviors and the potential negative impact of insecure attachment. Previous research has shown a positive relationship between secure attachment and some elements of adaptive career behavior. However, thus far, the relationship between attachment and all dimensions of vocational maturity set forth by Super (1977) have not been studied. The first goal of the present study was to examine whether or not a significant relationship exists between attachment and all dimensions of vocational maturity. A sample of college students ( n = 140) was used. Results revealed that secure attachment was significantly related to all dimensions of vocational maturity. A second goal of this study was to evaluate the common conclusion in the attachment literature that individuals not securely attached from their early life experiences may be destined for more difficulties in multiple domains of their lives. It was proposed that there may be opportunities beyond early life experiences that may abate the adverse role of insecure attachment in career development. This investigation questioned to what extent subsequent social support might counteract the predicted career outcomes of early insecure attachment by testing to see if social support played a moderating role in the relationship between secure attachment and vocational maturity. Results supported a moderating role of social support, such that when social support was high, the impact of attachment on career maturity was found to not be as great as when social support was low. Thus, since secure attachment was more influential on vocational maturity when social support was low, it was concluded that social support may act as a protective factor against the previously established negative implications of insecure attachment.