Separation -individuation and anxiety: Predictors of career indecision

Fiona Byrne-Oberman, Fordham University


A considerable amount of research has been conducted to determine the antecedents and correlates of career indecision. However, there has been criticism that the theory and research associated with career indecision has been limited because family variables, especially separation-individuation, have not been examined in relation to this variable. One of the purposes of this study was to test Lopez and Andrews' (1987) hypothesis that lack of separation-individuation is related to career indecision. Also, it was thought that a greater understanding of career indecision could be gained if separation-individuation was examined in relationship to anxiety. Newman, Fuqua, and Seaworth (1989) indicated that the role of anxiety and intrapersonal problems should be examined in order to reflect the complexity of career indecision. Both state and trait anxiety have consistently been found to be related to career indecision, and separation-individuation has been associated with anxiety. Therefore, in addition to examining whether separation-individuation had a direct effect on career indecision, another purpose of this study was to examine whether trait anxiety served as a mediating variable between separation-individuation and career indecision. In addition, trait anxiety was thought to have a direct effect and an indirect effect (through state anxiety) on career indecision, and state anxiety was hypothesized to have a direct effect on career indecision.^ Two hundred eight undergraduates from three liberal arts colleges completed measures of trait anxiety, state anxiety, career indecision, and separation-individuation. Four aspects of separation-individuation were measured: (a) attitudinal independence, (b) conflictual independence, (c) emotional independence, and (d) functional independence. Path analyses were conducted to analyze the data. The results indicated that separation-individuation did not have a direct effect on career indecision. However, anxiety was found to mediate the relationship between some aspects of separation-individuation and career indecision. In addition, both state and trait anxiety were found to have a direct effect on career indecision, and trait anxiety was found to have an indirect effect through state anxiety. The independent variables in the model accounted for 18% of the variance in career indecision. ^

Subject Area

Social work|School counseling|Educational psychology

Recommended Citation

Byrne-Oberman, Fiona, "Separation -individuation and anxiety: Predictors of career indecision" (1993). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9412129.