The Role of Personality Traits, Core Self-Evaluation, and Emotional Intelligence in Career Decision-Making Difficulties

By Di Fabio, Annamaria; Palazzeschi, Letizia et al. | Journal of Employment Counseling, September 2012 | Go to article overview

The Role of Personality Traits, Core Self-Evaluation, and Emotional Intelligence in Career Decision-Making Difficulties


Di Fabio, Annamaria, Palazzeschi, Letizia, Bar-On, Reuven, Journal of Employment Counseling


This study examines the role of personality traits, core self-evaluation, and emotional intelligence (El) in career decision-making difficulties. Italian university students (N = 232) responded to questions on the Big Five Questionnaire. Core Self-Evaluation Scale, Bar-On Emotional Quotient Inventory, and Career Decision-Making Difficulties Questionnaire. It was found that El adds significant incremental variance compared with personality traits and core self-evaluation in predicting career decision-making difficulties. The results draw attention to the unique role of El in career decisionmaking difficulties, offering new research opportunities and intervention possibilities.

Keywords: personality traits, core self-evaluation, emotional intelligence, career decision-making difficulties

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The theoretical and applicative relevance of the career decision-making process is stressed by Gati, Krausz, and Osipow (1996), who argued that the ever-increasing rate of developments, innovations, and changes in the workplace requires one to continuously learn new skills at work and contributes to increased job mobility from one place of employment to another throughout one's lifetime. In this regard, Gati et al. (1996) proposed and empirically validated a taxonomy of the various difficulties associated with career choice that an individual might experience. According to the Gati et al. (1996) model, there are three main types of difficulties that are typically encountered in the career decision-making process: (a) lack of readiness, (b) lack of information, and (c) inconsistent information. These primary difficulties are divided into two groups, indicating a temporal distinction between difficulties that are typically encountered before beginning the decision-making process and difficulties that are typically encountered after the process begins. Lack of readiness is the first type of difficulty that is often encountered prior to beginning the decision-making process, and this may result from a lack of motivation, indecisiveness, and/or dysfunctional beliefs. Concerning dysfunctional beliefs, cognitive information processing theory (Sampson, Reardon, Peterson, & Lenz, 2004) addresses, in particular, the role and

impact of dysfunctional career beliefs in career decision making (Krumboltz, 1994; Nevo, 1987). The difficulties that are often encountered during the decision-making process are lack of information (about the decision-making process itself, about oneself, about specific occupations, and/or about ways of obtaining information) and inconsistent information (dealing with unreliable information and internal and/ or external interpersonal conflicts).

The literature reveals a growing interest in studying individual variables associated with the career decision-making process (Nilsson et al., 2007). Regarding personality traits, for example, their specific role in the career decision-making process is generally recognized and agreed upon among researchers (Saka & Gati, 2007; Saka, Gati, & Kelly, 2008). With respect to Gati's model (Gati et al., 1996) as it relates to personality traits, individuals who are more emotionally stable are thought to experience less career decision-making difficulties both before and during the decision-making process (Albion & Fogarty, 2002). Empirically supporting the role of personality traits, research findings have revealed inverse relationships between career decision-making difficulties (Gati et al., 1996) and the traits of extraversion and emotional stability (Di Fabio & Palazzeschi, 2009).

In the search for variables that potentially affect the career decision-making process (e.g., Guichard & Huteau, 2001; Savickas, 2005), the importance of self-perceptions, or how the individual views himself or herself, has emerged as a relatively recent focus of scholarly inquiry (Bono & Judge, 2003). In this regard, an interesting area of research has focused on what is referred to as core self-evaluation (CSE; Judge, Locke, & Durham, 1997), which is, in essence, positive self-concept.

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