تاثیر مقایسه اجتماعی در زندگی حرفه ای تصمیم گیری: هویت حرفه ای به عنوان یک تعدیل کننده و پشیمانی به عنوان یک میانجی
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||تعداد صفحات مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی|
|37023||2015||10 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید|
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Journal of Vocational Behavior, Volume 86, February 2015, Pages 10–19
Abstract This study investigated the influence of social comparison on career choice certainty and its potential mechanisms: regret as a mediator and vocational identity as a moderator. Before the formal experiment, 30 pairs of vocational values representing typical conflicts in career decision-making for Chinese university students were obtained. The formal experiment adopted a single-factor (social comparison VS no comparison) between-subject design with vocational identity as an independent covariate. Ninety-eight junior and senior undergraduate students and graduate students in a university in China were invited to participate in the computer-controlled experiment, which involved vocational identity assessment, social comparison manipulation, and analogue career-choice scenario tests. Path analysis showed that: (a) Social comparison significantly and negatively predicted career choice certainty; (b) Regret partially mediated the effect of social comparison on career choice certainty; and (c) Vocational identity did not moderate the path between social comparison and regret, but significantly moderated the negative effect of regret on career choice certainty. These results indicated that in the collectivistic Chinese culture, individuals' career development trajectories may not be totally independent and are subject to influences by other people's choices, while emotion of regret and vocational identity development all play significant roles in this intricate process.
. Introduction Career decision-making is an important branch of vocational psychology and has received much research attention, particularly with respect to exploring factors that may influence how certain people are about their choices, i.e., their career choice certainty (Osipow et al., 1976 and Tracey and Darcy, 2002). Vocational development theories have identified a number of variables that may influence an individual's career choice, including personal factors like one's interests and values (Holland, 1997), and contextual factors like the structure and process of original family (Whiston & Keller, 2004) and significant others (Gati, 2013). However, examining existing literature that explored the contextual factors, no study has investigated the impact of social comparison with peers on career decision-making and choice certainty, which seems to be a potentially significant contextual force in shaping individual's career paths, especially in China which predominantly embraces a collectivistic culture (Chen, 2009). A specific illustration follows. 1.1. Social comparison in collectivistic cultures Social comparison was first proposed by Festinger (1954) as the tendency to evaluate one's opinions and abilities using other group members as references. Studies investigating the relationship between culture and individual's self-concept have suggested a possible link between one's cultural background and inclination to engage in social comparison (Heine and Hamamura, 2007 and White and Lehman, 2005). While individualistic culture entails a self-concept as independent, autonomous and self-contained, in collectivistic culture the prevalent view of self is interdependent, connected, and embedded in interpersonal relationships with others (Markus and Kitayama, 1991 and White and Lehman, 2005). For individuals with such an interdependent self-concept, research has indicated that they may pay more attention to their social relationships and standing, thus are more sensitive to the social aspect of self under public scrutiny and evaluation (Heine & Hamamura, 2007). Therefore, it may be reasonable to infer that individuals in a collectivistic cultural context like China may be significantly influenced by social comparisons since their social self remains a salient part of their overall self-concept, which partly exists in relation with others (Chen, 2009). In fact, some research has already demonstrated significant associations between social comparison seeking and one's cultural orientation (Chung and Mallery, 1999, Heine and Hamamura, 2007 and White and Lehman, 2005). For example, Chung and Mallery (1999) found out that higher collectivism was significantly correlated with increased desire to make general and upward social comparisons (“upward” means comparing with others who are better off or superior). White and Lehman (2005) found that in comparison with European Canadians (representing individualistic culture), Asian Canadians (representing collectivistic culture) demonstrated significantly higher tendency to seek social comparison, particularly upward comparisons that allow for self-improvement. Because the Chinese culture is primarily characterized by collectivism where people adopt a self-in-relation perspective (Chen, 2009), it might be anticipated that social comparison would be prevalent in and have influence on Chinese people's daily lives. More specifically in career decision-making, it may be a contextual factor that has potential salient roles but has not been addressed theoretically or examined empirically in the Chinese culture. 1.2. Career choice certainty, decision-making, and social comparison Although no previous research has directly examined the relationship between social comparison and career decision-making, a number of studies have investigated the effects of social comparison on general decision making processes and outcomes (He and Bai, 1997, Hoelzl and Loewenstein, 2005, Kumar, 2004 and Linde and Sonnemans, 2012). For instance, in Kumar (2004), participants who were told their friends had chosen their forgone alternative and received a greater discount tended to report less intention to stick to this purchase choice, which indicated an inaction inertia resulting from social comparison and counterfactual regret. Hoelzl and Loewenstein (2005) pointed out that social counterfactuals increased individuals' tendency to stick with an investment. Within the Chinese context, though limited in number and scope, research results still indicated that social comparison influenced the risk aversion of people who had experienced gain in a prior choice (He & Bai, 1997). Above evidence implied that social comparison affected people's choice behaviors by either increasing or decreasing their willingness/intention to continue their former choice. Therefore, we infer that comparing with others may potentially influence individuals' choice certainty: how certain they feel about and how much they hold on to their previous choices are significantly shaped by the messages obtained from comparing with others. Career choice is a very important type of choice people make in their lives, and the aforementioned findings have potential implications for career decision research as well. These findings evidence that social comparison influences choice certainty in general decision-making, thus suggest that such effects may also apply to people's choice certainty when making a career decision. In the field of vocational psychology, career choice certainty is an important variable that conceptualizes an individual's certainty and commitment to a career choice (Tracey & Darcy, 2002). Moreover, it has direct effects on career indecision (Osipow et al., 1976), career choice satisfaction (Robinson & Cooper, 1998), and turnover behavior (McLean, Bryan, Tanner, & Smits, 1993). However, in existing vocational psychology studies that examine what variables predict career choice certainty as an important career outcome, the contextual variable of social comparison has not been addressed, even though as aforementioned, research in other disciplines of psychology has already suggested such a link. Several research findings about the characteristics of Chinese social context and Chinese students' career choice have also indirectly implied this prediction relationship specifically in the Chinese population. In the high-context Chinese culture (Kim, Pan, & Park, 1998), career decisions are often made within a larger context where family, peers, or social factors may play salient roles above and beyond one's individual circumstances (Li, Hou, & Feng, 2013). This suggests that contextual factors like family's career expectation or other peers' career choice may have potential significant effects on Chinese students' career decision-making. While Gottfredson (1996) proposed three aspects of career choice (i.e. sex type, prestige, and interest) in her circumscription and compromise model, for Chinese university students social prestige was always considered as the most important factor in situations calling for compromise, and Chinese people tend to associate one's occupation with his or her social status (Zhou & Ma, 2007). Moreover, studies investigating Chinese parents' career expectation on their children have found achievements and social status related expectations to be its most salient facet (Hou, Chen, Zhou, & Li, 2012). Given that people in collectivistic cultures have a greater tendency to make upward comparisons in terms of ability or social standing (White & Lehman, 2005), and given the prevalent emphasis on social status and prestige in career-related aspects in the Chinese society, it might be expected that Chinese students would tend to compare with others in terms of career choice which is widely perceived to reflect their social status, and this act of social comparison may have a potential impact on how certain people feel about their earlier career choices. Taken together, the first objective of this study is to investigate whether the predicting effect of social comparison on career choice certainty could be found in Chinese university students. This research question is expected to expand current literature by examining the culturally relevant variable of social comparison as a specific contextual factor in influencing career decision-making, which has not been explicitly addressed in vocational theories or empirical studies, especially with regard to the Chinese population. 1.3. Regret as a potential mediator Reflecting on early models of career choice, scholars have noted that the portrayal of career development and choice as a completely linear and rational process has left out the significant roles of intuition and emotion in shaping individual's career choice (Kidd, 1998 and Krieshok et al., 2009). Though some recent models (e.g., Saka & Gati, 2007) started to incorporate emotions into the understanding of career decision-making, no study has examined (1) do emotions have significant effects and (2) what specific roles/effects emotions have in individual's career choice process, especially with an experimental design. From a broader perspective, however, scholars investigating general decision making have found support for the significant roles of emotion in people's decision-making process, especially regret, which is a negative emotion generated by comparing between actual and expected (better) outcomes (Zeelenberg, 1999). On one hand, research has supported the association between regret and social comparison: people scored high on social comparison orientation reported more regret than participants with a low need to compare (White, Langer, Yariv, & Welch, 2006). On the other hand, regret is shown to shape people's decision-making behaviors. For example, Bailey and Kinerson (2005) reported that the experience of regret with a particular type of investment did reduce one's tendency to make a similar investment. Schwartz et al. (2002) found that maximizers (who examine every possible alternatives and search for the best) reported more engagement in social comparison and more regret than satisficers (who choose one exceeds the acceptability threshold) in making purchase decisions, and regret played a partial mediational role between maximization and affect (depression and happiness). In understanding these effects, two important theoretical concepts have been proposed: counterfactual comparison as a necessary antecedent of regret (Zeelenberg, 1999), and Affect-As-Information as the mechanism through which regret influences choice (Schwarz & Clore, 1988). When an individual engages in social comparison with another person who is in the same situation but better off, the “what if I had chosen that” or “what if I were him in the situation” thoughts actually provide the counterfactual comparisons which might trigger the emotion of regret. This feeling then will be a piece of necessary information which he or she uses when evaluating and deciding on the choices, as theorized in the Affect-As-Information theory (Schwarz & Clore, 1988). Therefore, it might be speculated that making social comparison with someone who chose a forgone attractive career choice might serve as the counterfactual information that triggers the emotion of regret, which in turn influences the certainty one feels about their original career choice. The second objective of this research, then, is to explore the potential mediating effect of regret between social comparison and career choice certainty. 1.4. Vocational identity as a potential moderator The third objective of this study is to investigate the potential moderators that could possibly buffer the effects as hypothesized above. When studying general self-identity, Marcia (1966) concluded that people with higher self-identity tended to have more crystallized self-concept, more stable self-evaluation and greater decidedness. Holland, Gottfredson, and Power (1980) operationalized vocational identity as a specific component of one's general self-identity, which indicates “the possession of a clear and stable picture of one's goals, interests and talents (p. 1191)”. Porfeli, Lee, Vondracek, and Weigold (2011) pointed out that vocational identity reflected the status and level of an individual's understanding of him- or herself in terms of career development based on cumulative exploratory experiences. Thereby, it could be speculated that people with a higher level of vocational identity would be more likely to have a clearer understanding of their own career values and goals. While social comparison may carry external information that potentially “disturbs” one's original choice, people with higher identity are thus hypothesized to be less susceptible to such impacts and have greater certainty and commitment to their choices. Although few empirical studies have directly tested the moderation of vocational identity in career choice certainty, some research lends support to its relevance to career decision-making in general. For example, vocational identity has been consistently found to negatively correlate with career indecision or indecisiveness (Fretz & Leong, 1982) and positively correlate with career decidedness and choice certainty (Blustein, Devenis, & Kidney, 1989). Given the above theoretical rationale and the empirical evidence of its protective role, the third objective of this study is to investigate the moderation effect of vocational identity in buffering the impact of social comparison on career choice certainty. 1.5. Summary of research questions and hypotheses In sum, this study tests three hypotheses. Hypothesis 1 (H1) posits the existence of a significant negative relationship between social comparison and Chinese university students' career choice certainty. Hypothesis 2 (H2) predicts that emotion of regret will serve as a mediator between social comparison and career choice certainty. Specifically, engaging in threatening social comparison would lead to greater regret over a prior career choice thus decreasing his/her choice certainty. Hypothesis 3 (H3) postulates that vocational identity will buffer (moderate) the prediction of social comparison on regret and career choice certainty, and regret on career choice certainty. Specifically, higher vocational identity will attenuate all the above effects: when individuals with higher vocational identity engage in social comparison, in comparison to those with lower vocational identity, they will report less regret, and greater career choice certainty.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
3. Results 3.1. Preliminary analysis Before examining the hypothesized model, some preliminary tests were conducted to ensure the validity of subsequent analyses. Firstly, the homogeneity of experiment group and control group was examined. This was done by testing whether the differences between these two groups were significant on all variables tested before the experiment manipulation, i.e., gender, age, grade, vocational identity score, the first preference coordinate x1. Results indicated that none of these differences were significant ( Table 1), thus lending empirical support to the homogeneity of these two randomly assigned groups. Table 1. Descriptive statistics and difference tests between experimental and control group. All (N = 98) M (SD) Experimental (n = 52) M (SD) Control (n = 46) M (SD) Test statistic MVS total score 9.959 (4.225) 9.690 (3.883) 10.260 (4.606) Z = − .528 x1 .440 (.239) .447 (.220) .432 (.262) F = .089 Regret 2.898 (1.640) 3.330 (1.665) 2.410 (1.484) F = 8.134** x2 .467 (.245) .507 (.207) .422 (.278) Z = − 1.630 Choice certainty − .039 (.143) − .084 (.174) .012 (.072) Z = − 2.606** Note. Test statistics examined whether significant differences existed between the experimental and control groups. x1 = coordinate of preference before manipulation; x2 = coordinate of preference after manipulation. On MVS total score, x2, and choice certainty, the two groups did not have homogeneous variance, so the non-parametric Mann–Whitney U Test was conducted. *p < .05. **p < .01. ***p < .001. Table options The second set of tests was to examine whether demographic variables might have significant effects on the four investigated variables. Specifically, we inspected whether the vocational identity score, the first and second preference coordinates, the emotion of regret, and career choice certainty differed across gender and grade. No significant ANOVA results were obtained, showing that the demographic variables included in this study had no significant effects on the four research variables. They were thus not included in subsequent analyses. 3.2. Formal analysis: testing the hypothesized model The descriptive statistics are displayed in Table 1. Path analysis was adopted to collectively test the whole model. The variables of social comparison (categorical variable representing experimental manipulation), vocational identity (grand centered), regret (grand centered), career choice certainty, the product terms of social comparison × vocational identity and regret × vocational identity were simultaneously entered into the Mplus 6.0 software. The obtained final model was depicted in Fig. 1(b). The overall model fit was excellent: χ2 = .080, p = .96 > .05. RMSEA = .000, CFI = 1.000, and SRMR = .006. Inspecting the path coefficients, it could be found that social comparison had significant and negative relationship to career choice certainty (β = − .160, p < .05), and significant and positive relationship to regret (β = .271, p < .01), while regret significantly and negatively related to career choice certainty (β = − .523, p < .001). These three paths supported the Hypothesis 1 proposed in this study. To evaluate the mediation effect of regret between social comparison and career choice certainty, bootstrap technique was adopted due to its highest power and best type I error control ( Hayes, 2009). Results indicated a significant partial mediation effect of regret between social comparison and career choice certainty: standardized total indirect effect = − .142, SE = .056, p < .05. The proportion of mediation effect in the overall effect was − .142/− .302 = 47.0%. These results lent support to Hypothesis 2. Examining the variable of vocational identity, its main effect on career choice certainty was not significant (β = .107, p > .10). As for the product terms, the interaction of vocational identity and social comparison failed to predict regret (β = − .169, p = .073 > .05) or career choice certainty (β = − .115, p > .10). The interaction between vocational identity and regret significantly predicted career choice certainty (β = .215, p < .01). These results indicated that, although vocational identity did not moderate the direct effect of social comparison on career choice certainty, it did manifest significant buffering effects on the indirect paths: the higher vocational identity, the lower impact of regret on career choice certainty. Therefore, Hypothesis 3 was partly supported.