Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

Career Decision-Making Difficulties among Israeli and Palestinian Arab High-School Seniors

Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

Career Decision-Making Difficulties among Israeli and Palestinian Arab High-School Seniors

Article excerpt

Making a career decision becomes a major priority for adolescents during the last year of high school. The present study examined the taxonomy of career decision-making difficulties among 1,613 Arab 12th-grade students attending schools in East Jerusalem, areas in the West Bank under the Palestinian National Authority, and Israel. No significant differences were found among the three locations; gender differences were found in the major category Lack of Readiness and in four scales (lack of motivation, general indecisiveness, lack of information about additional sources, and external conflicts). Implications for counseling high-school students are discussed.


The term career indecision is defined in the broadest sense as difficulties individuals have when deciding on a career (Chartrand, Rose, Elliot, Marmarosh, & Caldwell, 1993; Gaff, Krausz, & Osipow, 1996; Leong & Chervinko, 1996), and refers to any problem or barrier arising in the decision-making process (Fuqua, Blum, & Hartman, 1988). Theory and research on indecision has focused on theoretical aspects of this concept (e.g., its dimensionality, Savickas, Carden, Toman, & Jarjoura, 1992; Shimizu, Vondracek, & Schulenberg, 1994) and on the distinction between temporary developmental indecision and deeper, more chronic and pervasive indecisiveness (Callanan & Greenhaus, 1992; Cohen, Chartrand & Jowdy, 1995; Santos, 2001).

In the theoretical realm, various approaches have been used in order to understand and describe indecision. For example, the psychodynamic approach (Bordin & Kopplin, 1973) attempted to classify difficulties according to their internal unconscious sources rather than visible symptoms. The developmental approach (Osipow & Fitzgerald, 1996; Super, 1953) used the notion of vocational self-concept to describe career decision difficulties, whereas the vocational interest approach (Holland, 1997) focused on problems in the consistency and crystallization of vocational preferences.

Gati et al., (1996) developed the taxonomy of difficulties in career decision making which was used as the theoretical framework in the present research. In this taxonomy the difficulties were defined as deviations from an "ideal career decision maker"--a person who is aware of the need to make a career decision, willing to make such a decision, and capable of making the decision "correctly" (based on an appropriate process and compatible with the individual's goals and resources). Any deviation from this model of an ideal career decision maker was regarded as a potential difficulty that could affect the individual's decision-making process in one of two possible ways: (a) by preventing the individual from making a career decision, or (b) by leading to a less than optimal career decision.

The taxonomy (Gaff et al., 1996) includes three major difficulty categories that are further divided into ten specific categories. The first major category, Lack of Readiness, includes three categories of difficulties that may arise before the beginning of the career decision-making process: (a) lack of motivation to engage in the career decision-making process, (b) general indecisiveness concerning all types of decisions, and (c) dysfunctional beliefs, including irrational expectations (Nevo, 1987) concerning the career decision-making process (e.g., "I believe there is only one ideal career for me").

The two other major difficulty categories, Lack of Information and Inconsistent Information, include types of difficulties that may arise during the actual career decision-making process. Lack of Information includes four categories of difficulties: (a) lack of knowledge about the steps involved in the process, (b) lack of information about the self, (c) lack of information about the various alternatives (e.g., occupations, high school classes, college majors), and (d) lack of information about the sources of additional information. …

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