Academic journal article Career Development Quarterly

Attributional Retraining Increases Career Decision-Making Self-Efficacy

Academic journal article Career Development Quarterly

Attributional Retraining Increases Career Decision-Making Self-Efficacy

Article excerpt

This study examined whether 60 college students (41 women and 19 men), grouped according to their career locus of control, were differentially affected by a videotaped career intervention. The intervention was an attributional retraining procedure designed to persuade students to attribute low levels of confidence in making career decisions and career-related failures to a lack of effort. Results indicated that the career decisionmaking self-efficacy (CDMSE) of students who initially exhibited an external career locus of control significantly increased after the attributional retraining procedure (p < .05), whereas the students who initially exhibited an internal career locus of control demonstrated no significant increase in CDMSE after attributional retraining.

Internal versus external locus of control is the core construct in Rotter's (1966) social learning theory. Locus of control refers to self-appraisals regarding the degree to which an individual believes that reinforcements are either internally or externally derived, and this appraisal is linked to personal pride and other self-esteem related affects experienced in the face of success (Graham, 1991). According to Perry and Penner ( 1990), a student who has an external locus of control is likely to experience cognitive, motivational, and affective deficits that result in a lack of effort.

Locus of control also seems to play an instrumental role in college students' career development. Several studies have reported positive relationships between an internal locus of control and career decisionmaking (CDM) attitudes (Bernardelli, DeStefano, & Dumont, 1983; Rodriguez & Blocher, 1988), career self-efficacy (Taylor & Popma, 1990), and career commitment (Colarelli & Bishop, 1990). An internal locus of control consistently associates with more mature and adaptive vocational behaviors and attitudes.

Taylor and Popma (1990) reported a moderate relationship between locus of control and career decision-making self-efficacy (CDMSE). CDMSE is a construct based on Bandura's (1977) self-efficacy theory. According to Bandura, an individual's judgments of self-efficacy influence whether behavior will be initiated, the degree of effort that will be expended, and the length of time that a behavior will be maintained in the face of obstacles. In the career development domain, self-efficacy expectations are hypothesized to influence an individual's attitudes and behaviors as they directly apply to the CDM process. CDMSE is concerned with the process dimension of career choice rather than with content dimensions of career choice.

Although moderately related, self-efficacy and locus of control are conceptually distinct constructs. As Bandura (1977) noted, Rotter's (1966) social learning theory focuses on causal beliefs about action-outcome contingencies rather than on personal efficacy. An individual's belief in either an internal or external locus of control does not necessarily determine her or his self-efficacy and resulting behavior (Bandura, 1977).

The results of Taylor and Popma's (1990) investigation indicated that external locus of control relates to less confidence in CDM task performance. Although research has linked CDMSE to important behavioral criteria (Blustein, 1989; Taylor & Betz,1983; Taylor & Betz, 1983; Taylor & Popma, 1990), there is a paucity of research on how to modify CDMSE (Luzzo,1994). This study addresses this gap by examining the effects of attributional retraining on the CDMSE of college students.

Attributional retraining has proven to be an effective intervention for a variety of psychological and personal adjustment problems including depression (Weiner & Litman-Adizes, 1980), alcoholism (Antaki & Brewin, 1982), and academic failure (Perry & Penner, 1990). Attribution interventions for college students often involve videotaped testimonials of current students or graduates who verbally persuade viewers to alter their conceptions regarding past failures. …

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