Academic journal article College Student Journal

Five-Factor Personality Domains, Self-Efficacy, Career-Outcome Expectations, and Career Indecision

Academic journal article College Student Journal

Five-Factor Personality Domains, Self-Efficacy, Career-Outcome Expectations, and Career Indecision

Article excerpt

According to social cognitive career theory, decisions to pursue a career may be influenced by self-efficacy expectations and anticipated career outcomes, thus we examined the incremental validity of these constructs beyond gender and personality. 179 undergraduate college students completed a survey, the Career Decision Scale (CDS), and the NEO Five-Factor Inventory (NEO-FFI). The survey included ratings of the importance of career-related outcomes (e.g., high income) and whether careers of choice or preference would provide such outcomes, in addition to self-efficacy ratings for completion of educational requirements, getting a job, job success, and advancement. Results indicated incremental validity of three domains of the five-factor model, neuroticism, agreeableness, and conscientiousness; self-efficacy for getting a job and job success, importance ratings of job outcomes, and job outcome expectations ([R.sub.2] = .25). Our results support hypotheses of social cognitive career theory in terms of the importance of self-efficacy and outcome expectations in predicting career planning.

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Social cognitive career theory has much utility for understanding career interest and career choice. It explains interest and choice by including background characteristics (e.g., gender, personality), sociocognitive mechanisms (e.g., self-efficacy, outcome expectations, and goals), and contextual influences (e.g., support for career interests and choices). The theoretical model builds on earlier models and thus includes features of previous models (Lent, Brown, & Hackett, 1994, 2002).

A key concept of the theory is self-efficacy, which is defined as the perceived level of confidence in one's ability to perform various activities related to career planning and development (Lent et al.). It can be specific to processes involved in career planning, and it can be specific to completion of educational requirements and job success. When women and men think about possible career choices, the likelihood of choosing a particular career is influenced by expectations for success in those occupations (Betz & Hackett, 1981; Brooks & Betz, 1990). Women report higher levels of self-efficacy for job success for careers that are female dominated, and men report higher levels of self efficacy for job success when considering careers that are male dominated (Betz & Hackett: Brooks & Betz).

In addition to self-efficacy, outcome expectations are considered to be critical for career interest and career choice. Outcome expectation is defined as an expected consequence of a behavior or action, thus engaging in Behavior X will result in Outcome Y as a consequence. Outcome expectations may be specific to outcomes of academic performance, for example, "'If I get good grades, I will be able to have the career of my choice" (Betz & Voyten, 1997, p. 189). Other outcome expectations may be specific to career planning and career choice, for example, "If I learn more about different careers, I will make a better career decision" (Betz & Voyten, p. 189). Research indicates outcome expectations to be prominent for predicting career indecision and college persistence. Results of one study indicated that measures of self-efficacy and outcome expectations predicted career indecision in women (Betz & Voyten). Outcome expectations related to perceived utility of a college education combined with the goal of completing college have incremental validity for predicting persistence beyond the first year of college (Kahn, Nauta, & Gailbreath, 2002).

Authors of social cognitive career theory (Lent et al., 2002) have acknowledged the contribution of Vroom's (1982) theory to understanding career interest and career choice. In order for one to develop an interest or preference for a particular occupation, one must consider important outcomes, termed outcome valence (e.g., high income) and perceive that having such an occupation will be instrumental in providing the outcome (instrumentality). …

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