The Influence of Others

Who has influenced your thinking about your career? 

No person is an island! While this section is focused on self-assessment, our conception of “career” and what ours could be like, is shaped by other people since birth. 

There are many ways in which people, events and our beliefs can have an impact on our thoughts about our careers. Social psychologists have recognised the profound influence of our environment on our careers for many decades, including the influence of key people in your environment (e.g. parents, teachers, siblings, friends) and information we take in from them about who we are and could become. 

These influences can either spur us forward, or hold us back. Questions are presented below to help you be more consciously aware of these influences.  When you have finished answering the below questions, making some personal notes and discuss your answers with the person next to you. 
Handout adapted from work by David Winter.


Expectations are pressures to follow particular paths based on what is considered acceptable by your family or community groups. 

  • What do people who matter in your life expect from you? 
  • Is there any pressure from your family or friends to pursue particular types of careers? Is there any pressure to avoid 
  • particular types of careers? 
  • What options are most (un-)acceptable to people who matter to you? 
  • Are there other things that people expect from you that might influence your choice of career (e.g. staying near 
  • home, getting married, having children, providing financially, etc.)? 
  • • How do you know what the important people in your life are expecting from you? Are you making assumptions? Have 
  • you asked them? 
  • • Can you ascribe any of your values to those of people around you? 
  • Whose expectations should you be taking into account in your decision making? 

Feedback refers to the messages that you may have received about your strengths and weaknesses, and your suitability for particular roles. 

  • What things have people told you that you are (not) good at? How do you know that this feedback is true? 
  • Has your self-confidence been affected by feedback from other people? What things might you be over-confident 
  • about? What things might you be under-confident about? 
  • • Who have you shared your career ideas with and how did they respond? 
  • Who is in the best position to give you neutral, constructive feedback on your ideas? 

Support is the reinforcement of aspirations and assistance in developing appropriate skills and strategies. 

  • Who/ what has supported you in your career exploration and choice? 
  • What kind of support do you need now and in the future?  
  • How could you obtain the support you need? 

Modelling refers to the availability of influential examples and the extent of identification with others when thinking about work. 

  • Who has been inspirational to you in the past? Who are your heroes?  
  • Who was respected in your background? How did you know they were respected?  
  • Can you find role models for your future career direction? Who has faced similar challenges? Whose mistakes and successes can you learn from? 

Information refers to opportunities to find out about options and the extent to which data is filtered by the norms of your social group. 

  • How much information about your career options have you obtained from people in the past?  
  • Which options have you got lots of/ little or no information about?  
  • Where does your information about the day-to-day work in particular occupations come from? How reliable is it? How complete is it? How up-to-date is it? 
  • Who may have the information you need in order to better understand your options? 

Informed by Bill Law (1981) Community Interaction Theory and. Mitchell and Krumboltz (1996) Social Learning Theory of Career Decision Making. 

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