8 - Self-efficacy in career choice and development  pp. 232-258

Self-efficacy in career choice and development

By Gail Hackett

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There are few other decisions that exert as profound an influence on people's lives as the choice of a field of work or career. Not only do most people spend considerably more time on the job than in any other single activity (save, arguably, sleep), but choice of occupation significantly affects one's lifestyle. Work adjustment is intimately associated with mental health and physical well-being.

– Hackett & Betz, in press.

This chapter addresses the role of efficacy beliefs in the important area of human functioning concerning career decision making and career development.

Theories of career development

Some psychologists have always been concerned with work. However, career development has received less attention in the mainstream literature (Osipow, 1986). Career development, as opposed to training for job skills (e.g., vocational education), can be defined as the preparation for, choice of, entry into, and adjustment to work throughout the life span (Super, 1990). Although the demand for career guidance has long been high among adolescents and young adults, career counseling has not received the attention it warrants from most applied psychologists (Hackett, 1993; Spokane, 1991). In today's rapidly changing job markets the need for career services is only likely to increase.

The earliest forms of vocational guidance, now commonly termed career counseling or career intervention, were rooted in differential psychology (Crites, 1981). The approaches to career counseling based on trait and factor or “matching men [sic] and jobs” models, historically atheoretical, have now been reconceptualized in the form of “person-environment (P-E) fit” theories (Hackett, Lent, & Greenhaus, 1991).