THE ROLES OF FAMILY AND CULTURE IN THE CAREER INTERESTS AND CHOICE GOALS OF ASIAN AMERICAN COLLEGE STUDENTS: A TEST OF SOCIAL COGNITIVE CAREER THEORY
Lent, Robert W
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Although family and cultural influences in the career development of Asian Americans have been widely documented, theory-driven research on this topic remains sparse and dated. The present study examined culturally relevant factors that may contribute to Asian Americans' career considerations in the overrepresented (e.g., science, technology, engineering) and underrepresented (e.g., education, social science) professions. Drawing from social cognitive career theory (SCCT), a culture-specific, social cognitive model of career interests and choice was tested across Holland's Investigative (I) and Social (S) themes. A large, diverse sample of undergraduate Asian American students (N = 802) from a Mid-Atlantic university participated in the study. The current findings provided initial empirical support for the hypothesized culture-specific model of interest and choice for both I and S themes, and confirmed the cross-cultural validity of SCCT for this population. Social cognitive variables (family support, self-efficacy, outcome expectations, and interest) accounted for a substantial amount of variance in Asian American college students' career consideration in both themes. Most of the hypothesized relations among the social cognitive variables were consistent with the theory. In addition, this study examined specific indirect and moderation effects of the culture-specific construct (adherence to Asian values) relative to the interest-choice relation. Findings highlighted the varied roles of family support and adherence to Asian values in participants' career development. For example, family support may directly encourage participants' Social career choice consideration while Asian values may promote Investigative career choice consideration in part through greater family support. Gender was also linked to choice consideration directly (I theme) as well as indirectly through self-efficacy (in both themes). Finally, multi-group invariance tests suggested that the model fit the data comparably well regardless of gender and generation group status. Hence, the model may be generalizable across the grouping variables (i.e., males and females, foreign born and U.S. born students). Together, these findings extend prior work applying SCCT to Asian American samples and may help to inform career counseling services for this population.