Decision Making and Motivation and Its Impact on Career Search Behaviors: The Role of Self-Regulation

By Kiener, Michael | College Student Journal, June 2006 | Go to article overview

Decision Making and Motivation and Its Impact on Career Search Behaviors: The Role of Self-Regulation


Kiener, Michael, College Student Journal


The purpose of this study was to enhance the utility of self-regulatory processes that allow undergraduates to gain a greater sense of their identity and in turn impact their career exploration behaviors. Multiple regressions were used to determine if decision making and motivation predicted career exploration behaviors. The results indicated that. decision making and causality orientations were significant predictors of both environmental and self-exploration of career opportunities. In addition, the research question was separated by gender to determine if gender played a significant role in determining career exploration behaviors. The study concludes with discussions on the results, limitations, and implications of the research.

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The importance of decision making can be seen in all phases of an individual's life, from minimal decisions on what to wear and eat, to higher level decisions regarding daily planning, and complex decisions centering on personal relationships, drug use, and career choice. Decision making is a major psychological function that allows for an examination of its process and discovery of its link between thought and action Radford et al, 1986).

Decision Making

Decision making models illustrate the importance of understanding a theory, generating and evaluating options, incorporating chance into the decision equation, and acknowledging faulty decision making patterns. Byrnes (1998) developed the Self-Regulation Model of Decision Making (SRMDM), which in addition to the above mentioned components, also incorporates self-regulation skills into the decision making process. The SRMDM includes a three step process for making decisions--generation, evaluation, and learning. Generation involves setting goals and creating options to meet these goals. Evaluation concerns weighing the options and considering the likelihood and desirability of each outcome. After a choice is made, the individual enters the learning phase and acknowledges his or her actions and consequences and integrates this experience into memory (Miller & Byrnes, 2001b).

According to the SRMDM, self-regulation is defined as the process of creating, establishing, and maintaining a sense of control over one's behavior and psychological processes in an attempt to meet desired goals. A self-regulated decision maker is described as an individual who sets adaptive goals and takes appropriate measures to achieve such goals (Miller, 2000). The SRMDM theory is based on these key concepts: metacognition, motivation, and behavior. A competent decision maker utilizes metacognition (the ability to monitor your thinking processes) to evaluate options and to learn from past decisions. Individuals who are motivated are confident in their ability to make decisions, and individuals who are effective behaviorally seek knowledge and use strategies to manage impulsive tendencies.

In studying the utility of the SRMDM in predicting adolescent decision making in social situations, Miller and Byrnes (2001a) found that: (1) adolescents' valuing of social goals and their competent decision making significantly predicted their social behaviors; (2) older adolescent girls were more affirming of socially competent behavior; and (3) older adolescent girls reported higher levels of competent decision making.

In another study, Miller and Byrnes (2001b) examined decision making in academic situations. Hypothesizing that decision making and valuing of academic goals would predict achievement behavior. They found: (1) adolescents' valuing of academic goals and their decision making significantly predicted their achievement behavior: and (2) older adolescent boys did not value achievement striving as much as younger boys and older adolescent girls.

The above studies were part of a larger study by Miller (2000) who examined how adolescents' decision making and their valuing of social and academic situations would predict social and academic behaviors. …

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