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Recording and interpreting work-related daydreams: effects on vocational self-concept crystallization.

This mixed-methods study examined the effects of recording and interpreting work-related daydreams on vocational self-concept crystallization and attitudes toward daydreams. Fifty-one college students were assigned to 1 of 2 experimental groups--daydream journal group (n = 15) and daydream interpretation group (n = 18)--and a control group (n = 18). Data were analyzed using analyses of covariance. At posttest, both experimental groups showed higher levels of vocational self-concept crystallization than the control group, and the daydream interpretation group perceived their daydreams as more relevant than the control group. Qualitative data were collected via written postintervention surveys and embedded as a supplement to the quantitative design. The qualitative data support the findings that participants in the experimental groups gained a greater awareness and clarity regarding their vocational self-concepts and a greater belief in the relevancy of work-related daydreams.

Keywords: daydreams, self-concept, crystallization, work-related daydreams


During the past 2 decades, constructivist and social constructionist perspectives have become firmly established within career counseling literature and practice (Brott, 2004; Cochran, 1997; Collin & Guichard, 2011; Savickas, 2002). A fundamental tenet common to both of these perspectives is that the creation of personal narratives constitutes the process and the product of reality construction. Essentially, narratives serve to coalesce self-conceptions (i.e., values, interests, aspirations, and expectations) into a coherent yet tractable sense of self (Campbell & Ungar, 2004). From this perspective, self-concept formation is primarily an individual and psychological meaning-making process (Bujold, 2004). Career narratives reflect individuals' subjective understandings of themselves in relation to work. Narratives can portray career aspirations as well as the meaning of work in an individual's life (Cochran, 1997). The goal of career assessment and intervention from a narrative approach, therefore, is to help individuals understand how the elements and themes of their career stories shape and reshape their sense of self and influence their career decisions (Savickas, 2002). Counselors collaborate with clients in an attempt to explore objective career information embedded within clients' narratives and to create subjective interpretations of these narratives (Christensen & Johnston, 2003).

Recent research suggests that work-related daydreams may serve as a central feature of a highly personalized qualitative career assessment strategy grounded in the narrative approach (Pisarik, Rowell, & Currie, 2013). Work-related daydreams often take the form of fully developed, detailed, personal stories that depict an individual within the role of work. Daydreams are accessible and tangible narratives that contextualize an array of features of one's self-concept as implemented in various life roles. Moreover, they offer a medium for clients to express personal aspirations and aspects of self that are exclusively from the client's perspective.


Daydreaming is a process in which an individual spontaneously develops a train of thought without conscious attention to immediate stimuli (Singer, 1981, 2003). Almost everyone engages in daydreaming on a daily basis (Klinger, 1990), and it is estimated that individuals devote from 30% to 50% of daily mental activity to the act of daydreaming (Killingsworth & Gilbert, 2010). In fact, researchers suggest that daydreaming is the psychological state of consciousness that the brain naturally defaults to in the absence of a task requiring deliberate concentration (Mason, Bar, & Macrae, 2007).

Daydreams have long been conceptualized as stories or narratives, often pictorial in nature. For example, in The Principles of Psychology, James (1890/1950) regarded individuals' streams of consciousness to be absorptions in fantasies and narratives, whereas Freud (1908/1959) offered a vivid example of a client's daydream that took the form of a contextually rich narrative in his essay "Creative Writers and Daydreaming." Singer (1981) referred to daydreams as "an unfolding sequence of private responses ... 'pictures' in the mind's eye" (p. 3), which are often accompanied by vivid mental imagery. Daydreams range in content from simple recalls of past episodes to fleeting thoughts about daily concerns and elaborate fantasies about the future (Mason et al., 2007; Stawarczyk, Majerus, Van der Linden, & D'Argembeau, 2012).

The ubiquity of the daydreaming phenomenon has led researchers to speculate that they serve important psychological functions. Most notably, daydreams are believed to be essential for organizing internal information, reflecting on personal goals, and planning complex future events (Stawarczyk et al., 2012). In most cases, the content of daydreams is directly related to current and salient life concerns (Klinger, 1990). Daydreams may also cohere self-schema through a reflective process and therefore contribute to the formation and maintenance of a sense of self (Klinger, 1999).

Work-Related Daydreams

There is no specific research within the career choice and development literature that directly addresses the phenomenon of daydreaming as defined by contemporary daydream scholars. However, Super, Savickas, and Super (1996) briefly remarked on the phenomenon and its role in self-concept development by stating that individuals engage in "daydreaming about possible selves they may construct" (p. 132) while attempting to implement a self-concept. Moreover, Super (1963) explicitly stated that individuals do evoke mental images of themselves in the role of work, and he defined self-concept as a "picture of the self in some role, situation, or position, performing some set of functions, or in some web of relationships" (p. 18). By synthesizing the literature put forth by daydream scholars and the peripheral references to the daydreaming phenomenon made by the aforementioned career development scholars, we put forth the following definition of a work-related daydream: a spontaneous and developing stream of thought away from one's immediate attention, including mental images and/or monologues that position the individual in the role of work.

It is important to distinguish work-related daydreams from the more prevalent construct occupational daydreams, put forth by Holland (1994) and made familiar by its inclusion in the Self-Directed Search (Holland, 1994). Occupational daydreams have been operationalized as occupational titles elicited by prompting individuals to list occupations they have considered (Gottfredson & Holland, 1975). Work-related daydreams, in contrast, are recorded narratives that depict a more elaborate and spontaneous train of thought or mental image (Pisarik et al., 2013). They can be embedded with work values, self-images, self-evaluations, aspirations, and life-role interactions reflective of what Super (1963) referred to as the vocational self-concept. For example, the following is a daydream that was recorded by a 19-year-old woman who was undecided about her major:
   My daydream starts at the ring of the first bell at 9:00 a.m. My
   kids sit quietly at their desks. I read over the lesson plans, and
   we get started. I am teaching biology. As the kids work in groups,
   I finish grading papers and begin to look around. I enjoy seeing
   the students work hard and enjoy my teaching. I am glad to know I
   am making a possible impact in their lives. At the end of the day,
   I clean up and head home. I love having the same schedule as my
   three kids so I can greet them when they come home. I am able to do
   chores, make dinner, and have fun with my family in the afternoons.
   I am relaxed and my life is stress free.

Vocational Self-Concept Crystallization

Super (1963) defined vocational self-concept as "the constellation of self-attributes considered by the individual to be vocationally relevant" (p. 19). The development of one's vocational self-concept occurs through a process of examining one's self-attributes in the context of possible occupational choices (Arnold & Masterson, 1987). As individuals become more aware of their interests, values, skills, and preferences, they expand their ability to describe who they are, and, eventually, a well-formulated (i.e., clear, stable, and certain) vocationally relevant sense of self emerges. This process is referred to as vocational self-concept crystallization (Barrett & Tinsley, 1977). Counselors and career development specialists have traditionally used psychometric assessments to facilitate this process (Swanson & D'Achiardi, 2005). However, narrative assessment strategies have emerged as a means of facilitating self-exploration in a manner that focuses on clients' lives within the context in which they are lived (Brott, 2004). Given the highly personalized and contextual nature of work-related daydreams, they would seem well tailored for use as a narrative approach to career assessment that is aimed at crystallizing an individual's vocational self-concept.

Purpose of the Study

The present study examined the effects of recording and interpreting work-related daydreams on vocational self-concept development and attitudes toward daydreams. Although the criteria for the effectiveness of constructivist career assessment strategies are "primarily interpretive and phenomenological" (Neimeyer & Neimeyer, 1993, p. 23), on a practical level, counselors need to know if a particular strategy is relevant to their clients and the type of outcome that might be expected from its use. Thus, the present study could offer practical information about the possible outcomes of using this assessment strategy.

We tested three hypotheses. First, individuals who recorded work-related daydreams in a journal would report significantly greater levels of vocational self-concept crystallization than individuals who did not record their work-related daydreams. Second, individuals who recorded and then interpreted their work-related daydreams with a counselor would report significantly greater levels of vocational self-concept crystallization than individuals who recorded only work-related daydreams. Third, individuals who recorded their work-related daydreams and individuals who recorded and then interpreted their daydreams would perceive their daydreams as more relevant and purposeful than individuals who did neither.


We used a mixed-methods design with the purpose of gaining a more comprehensive understanding of the intervention process. Specifically, we used an embedded design by which the qualitative methodology was supplemental to and embedded within the quantitative method (Creswell & Plano Clark, 2011). The quantitative and qualitative data were collected concurrently and merged during interpretation. A postpositivist paradigm undergirds both quantitative and qualitative methodologies, emphasizing prediction and generalizability yet also giving credence to the influence of context (Ponterotto, 2005). The quantitative portion of the study used a pretest-posttest, nonrandomized control group design. Participants in this study consisted of students enrolled in one of three sections of an elective university course titled Life Skills Needed for Success. The qualitative portion of the study used a conventional qualitative content analysis (Hsieh & Shannon, 2005).

We used a daydream journaling experience (Pisarik et al., 2013) and an interpretive counseling experience based on Hill's (2004) model of dream interpretation. This model consists of three stages: exploration, insight, and action. Individuals are guided through a process of examining the cognitive and affective elements of a dream, constructing a meaningful interpretation of that dream, and formulating a plan of action guided by this self-understanding. Several empirical studies suggest the effectiveness of Hill's dream interpretation model in facilitating increases in self-awareness and self-insight (see Hill, 2004). Given the purposes of our study, we elected to engage the participants in only the first two stages of this model.

In this study, we used three levels of intervention (i.e., control, daydream recording, and daydream recording and interpreting) for the following reasons. Several meta-analyses suggest rather conclusively that individuals who receive career interventions generally benefit from a variety of positive career development outcomes compared with individuals who do not receive career interventions (Whiston, 2002). Although individual counseling appears to produce the largest effects on positive career outcomes, there is also evidence that self-directed interventions (e.g., reading occupational material, computer assessment) produce positive career outcomes.


Fifty-one undergraduate students (51% women) from a large research university in the southeastern United States participated in this study. Of the participants, 33 identified as European American, eight as Asian American, five as African American, three as multiracial, one as Latino, and one as Middle Eastern. Twenty-one participants were freshmen, 12 were sophomores, four were juniors, and 14 were seniors. The participants ranged in age from 18 to 23 years (M = 19.86, SD = 1.45). Twenty-four distinct college majors were represented within the sample. Two participants were undecided.


Vocational Rating Scale. The Vocational Rating Scale (VRS; Barrett and Tinsley, 1977) is a 40-item self-report questionnaire developed as a global measure of vocational self-concept crystallization. Each of the 40 items measures the level of knowledge individuals have of their vocationally related attributes, characteristics, interests, and values (e.g., "I am very aware of my own values and how they will influence my choice of a career"). The items are rated on a 5-point Likert-type scale ranging from 1 (completely false) to 5 (completely true). High scores indicate a greater level of vocational self-concept crystallization. Four items specifically refer to past work experiences as a means of gaining vocational clarity and certainty. We dropped these items because we perceived the possibility that a participant's previous work experience might serve as a confounding variable. Therefore, in this study, we used a 36-item version of the VRS.

Barrett and Tinsley (1977) reported a high internal consistency (Cronbach's [alpha] = .94) for the VRS and a moderate 2-week test-retest reliability coefficient of .76. The original psychometric evaluation suggests that the VRS total score is positively related to overall self-perception and commitment to vocational choice (Barrett & Tinsley, 1977). Subsequent psychometric evaluation suggests that the VRS is related to scales measuring clarity and certainty of vocational self-perceptions and goals (Tinsley, Bowman, & York, 1989).

Attitude Toward Dreams Scale. The Attitude Toward Dreams Scale (ATDS; Hill et al., 2001) is a nine-item self-report questionnaire designed to measure the degree to which individuals perceive their dreams as beneficial and relevant. Seven items are rated on a 5-point scale ranging from 1 (disagree) to 5 (agree), and two items are rated on a 5-point scale ranging from 1 (never) to 5 (always). A factor analysis on the ATDS (Hill et al., 2001) suggests a single-factor structure with a high internal consistency of .88 and a 2-week test-retest reliability of .91. To specifically measure attitudes toward daydreams, we changed the word dreams to daydreams for each item of the ATDS. A sample item is "I believe that daydreams are an important way to understand myself."

Postintervention surveys. We developed two written surveys with the following questions: (a) "What benefit, if any, did keeping a work-related daydream journal have for you?" (b) "How did your work-related daydreams influence your views of yourself in relation to your career aspirations?" (c) "What benefit, if any, did the daydream interpretation session have for you?" and (d) "How did the daydream interpretation session influence your views of yourself in relation to your career aspirations?" The directions stated, "Please respond to the following questions in as much detail as possible."


The approval process for human participant research by the institutional review board was completed, and approval for this study was obtained. Course sections were randomly chosen to constitute one of the three conditions before the beginning of the semester. Students enrolled in the three course sections were notified of the potential to participate in this study during the 8th week of a 16-week semester. Participation was sought during a regularly scheduled class period during the 10th week. Students were informed of the voluntary nature of participation as well as the potential risks and benefits of participating. No incentives were offered for participation. Fifty-one of the 59 students (86%) who were invited agreed to participate. Informed consent was obtained from those who chose to participate.

The first data-collection period occurred shortly after we obtained consent from individuals in each condition: control group (n = 18), daydream journal group (n = 15), and daydream interpretation group (n = 18). Each participant completed a demographic questionnaire and a Time 1 (T1; pretest) VRS and ATDS. The T1 measures were then sealed in an envelope, and we collected them. We thanked the participants in the control group for their participation and informed them of the approximate date of the next data-collection period.

Daydream journals. Upon completion of the TI measures, participants in the daydream journal group and participants in the daydream interpretation group were given a 15-minute presentation that included a brief synopsis of the theoretical tenets of daydreaming, a definition of work-related daydreams, and the procedures for recording daydreams in a daydream journal. Then, we distributed daydream journals to each participant. We suggested to the participants that they carry their journals throughout the day in preparation for the spontaneous nature of daydreams. We informed the participants that the journals would be collected in approximately 1.5 weeks. We then instructed the participants in the daydream interpretation group on how to schedule a daydream interpretation session.

Daydream interpretation sessions. Dream interpretation sessions were conducted by a doctoral-level counseling psychology student who had previous experience counseling college students with career-related issues and had training with the dream interpretation model (Hall, 1996). Sessions were scheduled in class and confirmed via e-mails between the participants and the counselor. Interpretation sessions lasted between 50 and 60 minutes. In each session, participants presented the counselor with at least one work-related daydream that they recorded in their journal. Eighty-five percent of the participants presented two daydreams. During the exploration stage, the counselor guided the participant through a process of retelling the daydream (e.g., "Tell me about your work-related daydream in the first-person present tense, as if you are living your daydream presently"), identifying images within the daydream (e.g., "Tell me about the classroom you are teaching in"), and then exploring the origins of each image and the thoughts and feelings associated with each image (e.g., "What are you feeling as you look around this classroom?"). During the insight stage, the counselor and participant collaborated to synthesize dream images with past and current career values, aspirations, and interests (e.g., "How might your daydream reflect your current career interests?"). On completion of the interpretation session, participants were brought to a separate room to complete the Time 2 (T2; posttest) assessments and the postintervention surveys.

Interpretation sessions spanned a 2-week time period. At the conclusion of the daydream interpretation sessions, participants in the daydream journal group and the control group completed the T2 measures. We collected the T2 measures from participants in these groups 3.5 weeks after we collected the T1 measures. We conducted a short debriefing for each group and asked participants if they had any questions regarding the research procedures. Then, we thanked the participants for their participation.

Data Analysis

To analyze the quantitative data, we used one-way, between-groups analyses of covariance (ANCOVAs) to assess group differences on the measures of vocational self-concept crystallization and attitudes toward daydreams. We used the T1 measures as covariates. We conducted contrast analyses to analyze the mean differences between conditions.

We used conventional content analysis (Hsieh & Shannon, 2005) to analyze the qualitative data. Participants' written responses were transcribed verbatim. We then independently immersed ourselves in the data by reading the transcripts several times. We independently conducted line-by-line open coding (Strauss & Corbin, 1998). We grouped the codes into mutually exclusive categories such that each coded statement was placed into only one of several categories. Thus, each written response often contained multiple categories, but the codes did not represent multiple meanings. As the coding process continued through several iterations, we each identified and defined emergent categories. Then, we collaborated with each other to agree on, refine, and apply codes and, ultimately, to analyze and refine the emergent categories.


Quantitative Results

Before conducting the ANCOVAs, we checked assumptions of normality, linearity between covariates and dependent variables, homogeneity of variance, and homogeneity of regression. Each of these assumptions was met. The result of the first ANCOVA was significant, F(2, 851) = 3.69, p = .032, [[eta].sup.2] = .14, suggesting differences on T2 measures of the VRS between the three conditions. A planned contrast analysis suggested that the daydream journal group had significantly higher mean T2 VRS scores (see Table 1) than the control group (contrast estimate = 7.76, p = .045, 95% confidence interval [CI] [0.17, 15.34]). The daydream interpretation group also had significantly higher mean T2 VRS scores than the control group (contrast estimate = 9.16, p = .014, 95% CI [1.93, 16.40]). However, no significant difference in mean T2 VRS scores was found between the daydream journal group and the daydream interpretation group (contrast estimate = -1.41, p = .709, 95% CI [-8.95, 6.14]).

The result of the second ANCOVA was significant, F(2, 851) = 3.92, p = .027, r|2 = .14, suggesting mean differences on T2 measures of the ATDS between the three conditions. A planned contrast analysis suggested that the daydream interpretation group had significantly higher mean T2 ATDS scores than the control group (contrast estimate = 4.05, p = .009, 95% CI [1.07, 7.03]). However, no significant difference in mean T2 ATDS scores was found between the daydream journal group and the control group (contrast estimate = 1.29,p = .409,95% CI [-1.78,4.36]).

Qualitative Results

The qualitative findings of this study are organized according to the postassessment questions that were asked of the participants. We have provided participant responses in their entirety to convey the essence of each category. The postassessment questions were similar to one another, and, as a result, the responses and the subsequent categories that emerged were similar across the questions. Therefore, we have provided only descriptive data for the categories that reemerged (see Table 2).

Benefits of keeping a work-related daydream journal. Participants reported three categories in terms of the benefits of keeping a work-related daydream journal. The categories include awareness of the daydream phenomenon, self-realization, and self-analysis.

Awareness of the daydream phenomenon. Sixteen of the 33 participants who recorded their daydreams (daydream journal group, n = 8; daydream interpretation group, n = 8) reported that one of the benefits of doing so was an increased awareness of the daydreaming phenomenon. These participants reported becoming more aware of the content and the frequency of their daydreams and/or the process of daydreaming in general. For example, a participant may have gained a realization that his or her daydreams do contain images of a career goal he or she has already formed. The reported experiences of becoming aware of the daydream phenomenon were similar for participants across the two experimental groups. Participant 48 from the daydream interpretation group, for example, stated, "It allowed me to see how much I actually daydream and about how much of it is actually life-pertinent stuff." Similarly, Participant 27 from the daydream journal group wrote, "Keeping a work-related daydream journal helped to keep me aware of what my daydreams actually focused on." Participant 39 from the daydream interpretation group stated, "It helped me really realize how much my daydreams related to my real life.... I didn't realize how closely related my daydreams were to my career goals."

Self-realization. Eighteen of the 33 participants who recorded their daydreams (daydream journal group, n = 10; daydream interpretation group, n = 8) described a benefit of recording work-related daydreams as being greater self-awareness and clarity about one or more of the following: career goals, interests, work values, work satisfactions, and career concerns. Again, the experiences seemed similar across the two groups. Participant 27 from the daydream journal group stated,
   It helped me realize that in my daydreams I was never crammed
   inside a cubical. I was always doing something I loved. It made me
   realize that I don't want a terrible job for a lot of money. I want
   to do something I love.

Participant 37 from the daydream interpretation group wrote, "It helped me realize that getting paid is not enough for me to enjoy going to work every day.... I realized it is vital to pick a career I won't become bored in."

Self-analysis. Fourteen of the 33 participants who recorded daydreams (daydream journal group, n = 5; daydream interpretation group, n = 9) described a deeper self-understanding beyond awareness and clarity as a benefit of keeping a work-related daydream journal. Participant 31 from the daydream journal group shared, "It allowed me to draw connections and pin down what aspects about my future career I find exciting and which aspects spark concern or worry." Participant 44 from the daydream interpretation group stated, "It caused me to think more about why what was in my daydream needs to be part of my career. Also, it made me wonder why certain things I think I value were not in my daydreams."

Influence of work-related daydreams on views of self. The categories self-realization and self-analysis reemerged as participants described the influence of work-related daydreams on self-perceptions. Confirmation and motivation emerged as new categories.

Confirmation. Six of the 33 participants who recorded daydreams (daydream journal group, n = 2, daydream interpretation group, n = 4) described their daydreams as confirming a previous or current career choice. Participant 19 from the daydream journal group shared, "It influenced me to continue down the career path I am on and to not give up on the other things I love." Participant 41 from the daydream interpretation group mentioned, "The daydreams were positive. I know that the career I am aiming for is the one I'm meant for."

Motivation. Four of the 33 participants who recorded daydreams (daydream journal group, n = 1; daydream interpretation group, n = 3) described their daydreams as a source of motivation. Participant 44 from the daydream interpretation group stated, "They gave me motivation right now. Imagining things I value as being a part of my future life is motivating."

Benefits of the daydream interpretation session. The categories self-realization and self-analysis reemerged in response to this postassessment question. Different perspective emerged as a new category.

Different perspective. Four of the 18 participants in the daydream interpretation group suggested that one of the benefits of the interpretation session was that they were offered a perspective they had not previously considered. Participant 40 stated, "It was really good to be able to have someone that is willing to listen and talk about my daydreams instead of just thinking about them with myself all the time." Participant 39 wrote, "There were many benefits for me. I enjoyed the feedback I got from the counselor. I liked how she broke down my daydreams and related them to my interests."

Influence of the daydream interpretation session on views of self. As with the responses to the other questions, self-realization and self-analysis reemerged as categories. Confirmation was the only other category to reemerge. Eight of the 18 participants in this group suggested that their current or previous career goals were confirmed through the interpretation session. No new categories emerged from data generated by this question.


The quantitative results support our hypothesis that individuals who recorded work-related daydreams in a journal would have significantly greater vocational self-concept crystallization at posttest than individuals who did not record their daydreams. Whiston's (2002) analysis of career intervention research suggests that counselor-free interventions are effective in facilitating individuals' career development. The notion that individual learning can occur through self-discovery with no expert guidance (i.e., daydream journals) is not groundbreaking. Carl Rogers (1982) embraced the notion of self-directed discovery when he stated, "The only learning which significantly influences behaviors is self-discovered, self-appropriated learning" (p. 223). The qualitative data generated from this study are replete with examples of participants, given no direction other than to record their daydreams, gaining awareness of and insight into their vocational self-concepts. For example, Participant 32 stated, "The journal showed me what my main work-related worries are. It also showed me the interests I have, or lack of interests I have, in certain vocational areas." In summary, the data suggest that work-related daydreams in and of themselves are capable of facilitating greater clarity of vocational self-concept.

Individuals who participated in daydream interpretation sessions also had significantly greater levels of vocational self-concept crystallization at posttest than individuals in the control group. However, our hypothesis that these individuals would have significantly greater vocational self-concept crystallization than individuals who kept only daydream journals was not supported. Although Whiston's (2002) analysis suggests that counselor-free interventions can produce desired outcomes, it also suggests that individual counseling has the largest effects and that these effects occur rather quickly (i.e., an average of 1.38 hours). The qualitative data provide some support for this finding and for our hypothesis. In summary, 27 of the 33 participants in the two experimental groups described self-realization as a benefit and/or a result of recording daydreams in a journal. That is, most of the participants stated that they gained a greater level of awareness of aspects of their vocational self-concept (e.g., values, interests, aspirations). Recording daydreams seemed to increase what Super (1963) referred to as the metadimension of clarity (i.e., What kind of person am I?) for most of the participants. However, whereas seven of the 15 participants in the daydream journal group endorsed the category self-analysis (e.g., deeper level of self-reflection), 15 of the 18 participants in the daydream interpretation group endorsed this category. Meeting with a counselor for the interpretation session seemed to increase the opportunity for participants to experience more of what Super referred to as the metadimensions of refinement and certainty.

Another possible explanation for the lack of a significant quantitative difference in vocational self-concept crystallization between experimental groups at posttest may be related to the VRS. In this study, we used the VRS as a global measure of vocational self-concept crystallization, because the literature suggests that it was developed as such (Barrett & Tinsley, 1977). However, Super (1963) conceptualized vocational self-concept as encompassing several metadimensions (i.e., clarity, certainty, and structure). It is possible that the VRS scores may not have adequately reflected the changes that individuals experienced on these specific metadimensions as the qualitative data suggested they did.

We hypothesized that individuals in the work-related daydream journal group and daydream interpretation group would perceive daydreams as more relevant and purposeful than individuals who did neither. Again, this hypothesis was partially supported. Individuals in the daydream interpretation group perceived daydreams to be more relevant than the control group; however, individuals in the daydream journal group did not. We could not find any evidence within the qualitative data to support this result. In fact, nearly all the participants in both experimental groups reported that the daydreaming process was valuable and insightful.

Limitations and Future Research Directions

Several limitations should be considered when interpreting the results of this study. First, quasi-experimental designs have inherent threats to internal validity. Although we entered the pretest scores into the analyses as covariates, thus controlling for possible confounds, randomization of the sample is a more effective method for reducing the effects of possible extraneous variables. Second, the sample limits the generalizability of the findings beyond the rather narrow demographics of the study participants (i.e., traditional-age college students attending a competitive research university). Finally, although the VRS has undergone psychometric evaluation, its construct validity has not been rigorously scrutinized. Moreover, although the ATDS was not altered drastically to meet the measurement needs of this study, the scale has not been evaluated for use with daydreams.

Future studies should examine work-related daydreams across broad demographics. For example, cross-sectional, qualitative studies could examine the differences in work-related daydreams between age groups to understand the developmental influences of their content. Moreover, future studies could explore the predictive relationships between work-related daydreams and variables such as career choice and choice of major. Finally, future studies could analyze the content of work-related daydreams quantitatively by examining the congruency between the elements of one's self-concept identified within work-related daydreams and those identified by established values assessments and interest inventories.

Counseling Implications

The results of this study imply that work-related daydreams can be an integral aspect of a career assessment strategy and an intervention for developing skills necessary for effective career self-management. When Super (1963) put forth the idea of vocational self-concept, careers were organizationally managed and driven. That is, individuals depended heavily on their employers to develop their career trajectories. Currently, careers are characterized by unpredictability and nonlinearity. Therefore, it is becoming imperative that individuals proactively manage their own careers. Within this protean career paradigm (Hall, 1996), Super's notion of self-concept crystallization is perhaps more relevant than ever. Career adaptability has become the essential metaskill necessary for effective career self-management. The components of career adaptability are readiness and resourcefulness in the face of imminent multiple career transitions. The skills needed to foster career adaptability (i.e., self-reflection, visioning, and self-clarity) are congruent with the metadimensions of a crystallized self-concept (Niles, Yoon, Balin, & Amundson, 2010). The results of this study illustrate the potential of using work-related daydreams to foster the competencies that compose career adaptability and the development of a vocational self-concept.

Recording daydreams seemed to be a meaningful self-reflective activity for the participants. They took time to consider the images of themselves in multiple life roles and contexts. The assessment process was more than a means to an end (i.e., self-knowledge). The process of gaining self-knowledge through reflection and visioning is, in fact, an essential career adaptability skill. However, the participants did not stop at self-reflection; they reported many examples of engaging in the analysis of these self-images. This process, in turn, seemed to lead to greater clarity of self. Underlying constructivist and social constructionist perspectives is the recognition that individuals are active agents in creating identities from narratives and can be collaborative partners with counselors in assessing these narratives (Collin & Guichard, 2011). Recording and interpreting work-related daydreams seemed to be an effective constructivist assessment process for these participants.

Perhaps most important, the participants became aware that their daydreams were real, tangible, and useful. Believing that the process of "daydreaming about possible selves" (Super et al., 1996, p. 132) is a legitimate and worthwhile activity will, it is hoped, encourage individuals to practice this skill, which, as previously stated, is needed for adapting to the career realities inherent in the 21st century. As one of the study participants stated, "Talking about my daydream and forcing myself to express what I thought really allowed me to remember and reflect about my future more than I normally do."

Received 01/06/14

Revised 04/24/14

Accepted 05/21/14

DOI: 10.1002/cdq.12015


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Christopher T. Pisarik and Lacy K. Currie, Division of Academic Enhancement, University of Georgia. Lacy K. Currie is now at Division of Student Affairs, Counseling Center, Georgia Institute of Technology. Correspondence concerning this article should he addressed to Christopher T. Pisarik, Division of Academic Enhancement, University of Georgia, 221 Milledge Hall, Athens, GA 30602-1554 (e-mail:
Means and Standard Deviations of Experimental and Control
Groups at Pretest and Posttest

                                      Pretest          Posttest

Measure                         M       SD       M       SD    Adj. M

Control Group (n = 18)

Vocational Rating Scale       99.50   21.08    97.22   17.46    95.03
Attitude Toward Dreams Scale  30.50    6.36    30.50    5.80    29.29

Daydream Journal Group (n = 15)
Vocational Rating Scale       95.06   13.16   101.60   13.05   102.79
Attitude Toward Dreams Scale  27.60    6.58    30.20    5.25    30.58

Daydream Interpretation Group (n=18)
Vocational Rating Scale       95.05   20.53   103.00   21.42   104.20
Attitude Toward Dreams Scale  26.66    5.21    32.44    5.05    33.33

Note. Adj. = adjusted.

Benefits and Influences of Recording and Interpreting
Work-Related Daydreams

                      Participant Number                     Frequency

Category           DIG                  DJG                  DIG   DJG

Benefits of Keeping a Work-Related Daydream Journal

Awareness of the   37, 38, 39, 42,      19, 20, 22, 23,       8     8
  daydream           48, 49, 50, 51       24, 27, 29, 33
Self-realization   35, 37, 38, 40,      19, 20, 25, 26,       8    10
                     42, 47, 48, 51       27, 28, 29,
                                          30, 31, 32
Self-analysis      34, 36, 37, 41,      21,22, 30, 31,32      9     5
                     44, 45, 46,
                     47, 51

Influence of Work-Related Daydreams on Views of Self

Self-realization   34, 35, 36, 37,      19, 20, 22, 24,      11     7
                     38, 40, 42,          27, 29, 30
                     43, 46, 49, 50
Self-analysis      38, 39, 45, 47       21, 26, 32, 33        4     4
Confirmation       41, 43, 48, 51       19, 29                4     2
Motivation         41, 44, 45           19                    3     1

Benefits of the Daydream Interpretation Session

Self-realization   36, 37, 39, 40,                           11
                     42, 43, 46, 47,
                     49, 50, 51
Self-analysis      34, 35, 37, 38,                           10
                     41, 43, 44, 45,
                     48, 51
Different          37, 38, 39, 40                             4

Influence of the Daydream Interpretation Session on Views of Self

Self-realization   34, 37, 38, 39,                            9
                     40, 43, 47,
                     49, 50
Self-analysis      35, 36, 39, 45                             4
Confirmation       35, 36, 38, 40,                            8
                     41, 43, 44, 45

Note. DIG = daydream interpretation group (n = 18);
DJG = daydream journal group (n = 15).
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Author:Pisarik, Christopher T.; Currie, Lacy K.
Publication:Career Development Quarterly
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 1, 2015
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