Social Psychology of Education

, Volume 12, Issue 3, pp 345–359 | Cite as

‘I am–we are’: personal and social pathways to further study, work and family life



This project explores the apparent layers in motivation for young people’s plans in order to extend Pathways Theory. We bring together personal, relational and group motivation to explain the planned pathways to study, work and family life. Location was an Australian town, close to the national socio-economic average, to control broad social factors. Participants (N = 78) were 12 to 18 year-old girls and boys (mean age 14.5 years). Results provide little support for popular explanations based on demographic factors (age, gender, family background) and broad personal indicators of self esteem and mood. Instead, the results support proposed differential explanations for pathways to study, work and family life. In particular, personal aspects of identity and self concepts, social expectations and group identity influence young people’s pathways to further study. Group uniqueness explains pathways to paid work, yet experience of higher education tends to limit plans for family life. Findings support inclusion of personal, relational and group motivations in developing innovative theories of pathways motivation. Ongoing work considers common and distinct explanations across socio-economic contexts.


Personal and social identity Motivation Adolescents Planned behavior 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • L. J. Bornholt
    • 1
  • P. M. Maras
    • 2
  • R. A. Robinson
    • 3
  1. 1.Watervale SystemsPotts Point, SydneyAustralia
  2. 2.University of GreenwichLondonUK
  3. 3.University of SydneySydneyAustralia

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