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Title: The psychological adjustment of graduates entering employment
Author: Fournier, Valerie
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 1993
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The aim of this study is to analyse the personal change experienced by graduates during the transition from university to employment. The research addresses four questions: (1)- How do graduates construe their new context? (2)- How do their construe their new role? (3)- How do they revise their self construction? (4)- How does construing their new role and reality affect the way graduates look at themselves? It is argued that Personal Construct Psychology (Kelly, 1955) provides a valuable framework for exploring these questions. The theoretical framework for the research suggests that graduates will engage in constructive revision as they encounter events which do not fit their existing patterns of understanding. Constructive revision is said to be channelled by the individual's existing construction system, and hence to reflect individual differences rather than socialisation effects. Role construction and reality construction are seen as two key mechanisms through which graduates might revise their self construction. Three factors are said to affect the extent of change: invalidation, tightness of the construction system, and threat; and two factors are said to affect change in self~steem: role meaningfulness, and initial self-steem. The study is based on a three phase longitudinal design over nine months from entry, and involves fifty-six graduates from a single organisation Data were collected through semi-structured interviews (at Tt, 1'2, and T3), repertory grids (completed at Tl and T2 and in which constructs were elicited at both times), and questionnaires (T3). The analysis is based on both the identification of group patterns, and the analysis of individual cases. The results suggests that, on the whole, graduates undertook some significant change in their construction system, their construction of organisational reality, and of themselves during the period of transition. However, both the extent and nature of change are marked by great individual differences, making the group analysis sometimes blurred and inconclusive. As predicted, the extent of change in reality construction is positively related to social invalidation, and is negatively related to tightness and threat. The extent of change in self construction is negatively related to tightness, while threat was found to encourage change along existing constructs. Four patterns of change in self~steem are identified, and increase in self~steem was found to be positively related to role meaningfulness, while initial self-esteem moderates this relationship. An important new concept emerged from the analysis: Discovery (perceived 8 difference between oneself and people at work); it was found to encourage the development of new constructs, and change in self construction. In line with the literature on organisational entry, the results suggest that graduates were commonly surprised (more often negatively than positively) by their role. The analysis concerning the relationships between role, reality, and self construction produces mixed results. On the one hand, the holistic analysis shows that the way graduates construed their role and reality had some significant influence on the way they construed themselves, as suggested by the theoretical framework. On the other hand, the correlational analysis (parameters approach) provides weak\support for the hypotheses and propositions concerning the relationships between role, reality and Self construction. It is suggested that the weakness of the results of the parameters approach could be due to the wide variety of patterns deriving from individual differences. Given the complexity of these individual differences in adjustment, it is not surprising that many of the correlations are small; furthermore, the sample of fifty-six is only large enough to reliably detect "true" correlations of moderate size (0.35 or above). In conclusion, the theoretical, practical, and methodological significance of the results is discussed, and some weaknesses of the research are outlined.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available