Portrayals of Unethical and Unvirtuous Workplace Behaviors on TV: Implications for Vocational Anticipatory Socialization

DaJung Woo, Kimberly Walsh McDermott


This article presents a 2-phase multimethod study exploring (a) how unethical and unvirtuous workplace behaviors are portrayed on television programs that are popular among adolescents and (b) how adolescents make sense of the portrayals and use their interpretations for their vocational anticipatory socialization (VAS)—the process of learning and developing expectations about future careers. In Phase 1, we conducted a content analysis of the top 15 most watched television series among adolescents between 2013 and 2014 (data obtained from the Nielsen Company). In Phase 2, we conducted a series of focus group interviews with 74 adolescents who were regular viewers of the 15 television programs. The findings contribute to our understanding of television as an important source of VAS and how television portrayals of workplace ethics-related content affect individuals’ career pursuits.


vocational anticipatory socialization, workplace ethics, television, adolescents, social cognitive theory, moral reasoning

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