Ignatian Spirituality in Vocational Career Development: An Experimental Study of Emerging Adults
Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy in Industrial/Organizational Psychology (PhD)
First Advisor/Committee Member
Second Advisor/Committee Member
Third Advisor/Committee Member
vocational career development, vocational counseling, purpose, vocation, calling, self-concept clarity, career decision self-efficacy, occupational information, emerging adults
Traditional undergraduate students fall in an age range known as emerging adulthood, a development stage of life characterized by freedom and exploration in pursuit of understanding one’s identity. This is an important developmental process because a failure to discern this identity and what one finds meaningful can be associated with numerous harmful outcomes such as depression, anxiety, and substance abuse. Conversely, coming to a better understanding of one’s identity is also associated with the number of positive outcomes such as hope, life satisfaction, and career planning. Therefore, institutions of higher education have both an opportunity and an obligation to consider how to best support and guide their students through this identity exploration. As such, the purpose of this study is to evaluate one approach for doing just that. In the current investigation, I examined the causal relationship between student involvement in spirituality-infused vocational career development (VCD) and the vocational outcomes of purpose, vocation, and calling. To better understand this effect, I explored self-concept clarity, career-decision self-efficacy, and knowledge of occupational information as explanatory mechanisms for this relationship. Participants were 127 undergraduate students at a private, Christian University in the Pacific Northwest. Students were randomly assigned to one of three VCD conditions: a control group, a condition that offered students only traditional VCD activities, and a spirituality-infused VCD condition that included both the traditional VCD activities and five discernment/spirituality-related discernment activities. Results indicated that participation in the spirituality-infused VCD intervention led to significantly higher post-test scores for sense of purpose compared to students in the traditional VCD condition (B = -0.326, p = .014). Likewise, participation in the spirituality-infused VCD intervention led to significantly higher post-test scores for presence of calling compared to students in the traditional VCD condition (B = -0.226, p = .015); this analysis was approaching significance when comparing these students to those in the control group (B = -0.176, p = .053). Mediation analyses revealed that self-concept clarity was approaching significance when comparing those in the spirituality-infused VCD condition to those in the control group (Bab = -0.091, p = .053, 90% CI = -0.189 to -0.008), and trending toward significance when comparing those in the spirituality-infused VCD condition to those in the traditional VCD condition (Bab = -0.085, p = .072, 90% CI = -0.184 to -0.002). Finally, one additional indirect effect that was trending toward statistical significance occurred when comparing the control group to the spirituality-infused VCD condition in the model with career decision self-efficacy as a mediator to sense of purpose (Bab = -0.085, p = .080, 90% CI = -0.185 to -0.001). The findings from this research suggest that that the infusion of spiritual discernment practices into vocational counseling interventions can significantly enhance the effectiveness of those interventions. This information can be used to inform how higher education institutions support students in their career decision-making and discernment.
Campanario, Scott, "Ignatian Spirituality in Vocational Career Development: An Experimental Study of Emerging Adults" (2018). Industrial-Organizational Psychology Dissertations. 18.