Academic journal article Career Development Quarterly

Impact of Dysfunctional Career Thoughts on Career Decision Self-Efficacy and Vocational Identity

Academic journal article Career Development Quarterly

Impact of Dysfunctional Career Thoughts on Career Decision Self-Efficacy and Vocational Identity

Article excerpt

When determining a career path, most people typically face an immense challenge (Zunker, 2012). The stress of such decisions becomes particularly acute during the college years, when students must choose their major and, later on, their first real-world employment, both of which are instances that can dramatically influence future career paths and lives. Concerning the process of making successful career decisions, career theorists have drawn attention to the need for the development of vocational identities (VIs; Super, 1980), because the determination of an effective career path requires an individual's robust VI (Holland, Gottfredson, & Power, 1980). The crystallization of a clear VI is a vital task (Super, Savickas, & Super, 1996) and provides a foundation for making optimal career decisions.

However, South Korean college students tend to fail in developing stable VIs during adolescence. These identity diffusions often trigger numerous difficulties in the process of making career decisions (J. C. Lee & Choi, 2006). Ahn and Ahn (2005), for instance, pointed out that approximately 70% of South Korean college students chose majors that are incongruent with their vocational interests. As researchers have found, this gap between VI and career decision making relates to contextual factors. First, the trend to emphasize achievement in secondary education prevents adolescent students from having enough opportunities to explore multiple career options. Many Korean parents understand education as a gateway to financial success, and, when pursuing employment, their children gravitate toward those careers that offer the highest pay (Lankard, 1995). The parents tend to determine their children's future employment, making decisions based not on their children's desires or goals, but on their own criteria (Chen, 1999).

Additionally, the lack of a career guidance system in secondary schools further hinders the development of VIs (E. J. Kim, 2001). According to the Korea Research Institute for Vocational Education and Training (2013), only 50% of secondary schools in South Korea employed career-related professionals, and most schools did not provide regular and formal career education for their students. S. L. Kim and Lee (2007) noted that more than half of Korean adolescents greatly limit their vocational perspectives by considering only a miniscule segment of the more than 10,000 possible vocations; this implies that the students do not have access to the sorts of information that would expand their vocational horizons.

Besides external variables, such as culture and education systems, some researchers have focused on the internal variables that influence the development of VI among South Korean college students (M. Jeong & Noh, 2008; H. J. Lee, 2008; Lim, Song, & Lee, 2011; Shin & Kelly, 2013; Yang & Lea, 2012). H. J. Lee (2008), for example, revealed that social anxiety, decision-making barriers, and career preparation behavior closely related with the construction of VI. Additionally, Shin and Kelly (2013) examined the developmental effects of familial relationships and optimism on VI development.

Even with these studies, however, more research into the concretization of VI is urgently needed, particularly work that examines which factors boost or impede the development of VIs among South Korean college students. The present study, therefore, focused on two individual, cognitive factors-career decision self-efficacy (CDSE) and career thoughts-to investigate their influence on VI. In doing so, our study considered CDSE as an independent variable and career thoughts as a mediator between the self-efficacy and VI.

CDSE

By applying the concept of self-efficacy (Bandura, 1977, 1997) to understanding human career development, social cognitive career theory (SCCT; Lent, Brown, & Hackett, 2002) highlights self-efficacy as a central component in predicting individuals' career interests, goals, choices, and performances. …

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