Adolescent decision-making styles and "fact finding"

Year: 1994

Author: Johnson, Stephen

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

To make wise vocational decisions Parson's "true reasoning" model is often taken as the template for counselling and information provision. This model stresses the necessity for information about the individual, the world of work, and careful reasoning to allow a "match" between the two. This model has been embraced wholeheartedly by private, State and federal agencies which, in addition to more "traditional" resources, provide a massive information pool for youth to access. Yet research has repeatedly shown that students rely on parental and peer information when making vocational decisions. Is this too broad a generalisation? This research examines the manner in which the style of decision-making, as proposed by Irving Janis and Leon Mann, influences the information-gathering behaviour of Year 12 students facing transition from high school.

A total of 240 Year 12 students from four selected co-educational government high schools were asked questions about their decision- making style, what they thought they would be doing in the following year, and what information resources they had used. The survey was conducted three times during the year in order to examine changes in resource use.

It must be stressed that this is an exploration of some of the psychological bases that help or hinder decision-making. The model presented is by no means exhaustive, yet raises concerns on the current teaching of decision-making, the provision of information, or assumptions of rationality, and current approaches to vocational counselling.