CAREER DEVELOPMENT IN YOUNG ADULTHOOD: A TEST OF LEVINSON'S THEORY
HALPERT, LESLIE HOWARD
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This study tested the applicability of Daniel Levinson's developmental theory to a group of individuals choosing to become psychologists. Levinson's theory predicts alternating periods of structural stability and structural disequilibrium. Based on this theory it was expected that individuals in their Age Thirty Transition (ages 28-32) would show higher commitment to their career choice than individuals in either the Entering the Adult World period (ages 21-27) or in the Settling Down Period (ages 33 to about 40). It was further expected that an established sense of ego identity is not achieved until after the Age Thirty Transition is passed, and hence give support to Levinson's position that occupational formation is not accomplished until one is well into one's thirties. It was expected that these trends would be similar for women and men.;Eighty-four subjects were used, 48 women and 36 men, falling into the three age groups comprising the Early Adult Era investigated here. Two measures were used to assess ego identity formation, Constantinople's (1969) Inventory of Psychosocial Development, and Simmons's (1970) Identity Achievement Scale. Responses to a Biographical Inventory were analyzed to assess level of commitment to career choice, felt likelihood of acceptance to a doctoral program, and to measure demographic variables such as marital status, income level and work history.;The results supported Levinson's theory. Ego identity formation was shown to be completed only after the Age Thirty Transition. The transition itself was marked by high commitment to career goals and by an urgency to attain these goals which were not apparent in the younger or older subjects.;Gender differences were found, especially in the older group, which were discussed. Unmarried women showed higher commitment to career goals than men and than married women. Men in their Settling Down period showed less commitment than would be expected. The meaning of this was unclear and several explanations were suggested.;It was concluded that career development follows a course of provisional commitment, transitional accommodation, and an individuated settled period as one progresses through the years between 20 and about 40. While the characteristics of the first two phases of this Era were established, the nature of the Settling Down stage was not as clear. Areas of further research needs were noted.
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